Thursday, January 20, 2011

Breaking the Cycle: Day 2.

Disclaimer: This is an insanely long post.

At the end of Day One my dear husband came to me and told me that our girl child was being totally defiant. This is her thing. As a toddler she would kick and hit and spit and bite and scratch and do the exact thing you just told her not to do. When she was 3ish we got a tub refinished and I took her into the bathroom and I showed it to her and said, "See, it's white now but it's a bad chemical and we must not touch it because it won't come off our hands. It's not like paint. Don't touch!" And I walked her out of the room and shut the door and she did an immediate 180 and put her hand on the tub. We ask her to do something and she whines or cries or throws a temper tantrum or all three. Since she is no longer a toddler and I'm pretty sure this kind of behavior should be a random occurrence and not a common occurrence, we worry. Some people say it's just girls or it's certain kids in general but it doesn't feel right to me. She also doesn't usually act that way in front of anyone but her parents.

Some things are making a difference already. I try and listen to her and repeat back what she says to me. Instead of going, "Uhhuh...uhhuh." I'm making eye contact and getting down on her level more when she talks. I'm praying really hard that I will know what they need, and give them that instead of what I think they need. I think they need what I needed. I needed clothes that fit and weren't old and dirty and had holes, I needed our heat and electricity and phone paid for. I needed my mother to be at events and not say inappropriate things when my friends were over. I needed her to not talk about sex all the time. I needed her to not flirt with neighborhood young adult males. I needed her to get off the phone with people that weren't her kids or husband and needed her to not work all the time if we weren't going to benefit as a family from her being gone. And I figured as a Mother if I wasn't doing any of these things, I was doing my job.

But I need some new ideas. So I called Jules and talked to her. Her father did some cute things with her that made her feel like she was special. He set up dates with her, to go and be with just her. They'd walk through the mall or go to the park. The point was just to get out and spend time together and talk. I loved that idea. She and I had a good conversation and at one point she said that at least I wasn't afraid I loved my girl less because of her dad. That at least I wasn't holding what he did against her. But I am terrified that I am. When she was born she came out looking like her biological father. And I can't explain the sadness. She was beautiful, it wasn't that. It was that there was nothing but deep, deep heartache left over from that experience and I didn't know how to separate those feelings.

Her Bio dad and I met at The Owl Bar. And I was in the middle of the experience I had written about previously. I had no desire to smoke or drink any more, and I was praying, but I don't think I had gone to church yet. A friend had gotten a baby sitter and no one wanted to go up to the bar with her. She called me like 4 times so I finally agreed to go. I didn't drink and I sat there vacantly while she talked about the cute guy at the table behind us. After a bit, he came and sat down next to me. But then he did nothing. He just sat there. For a long time. I felt so bad for the guy I struck up a conversation with him.

We had our first date on Father's Day. The irony. I asked then if he had kids and he said he had 5. I choked. I remember thinking it was a lot for someone his age but looking back I think he may have lied about that, too, his age. He asked me about my kids and I said I just had the one. He was surprised but I told him that I had been told by my OBGYN that I would have a hard time conceiving so I was lucky to have the one. I asked if he had called his dad yet and he said he had not. I urged him to call his dad before it got too late. He looked kind of ill. Like I had asked him to go ahead and drink poison since it was Drink a Poison Day. He called and left him an awkward message and he got choked up when he told his dad that he loved him and wished him a Happy Father's Day.

We broke up and got back together a bunch of times because I started feeling like I wanted someone who wanted to be in the church and he had just started living outside it. He told me I was wrong, that he had always wanted a testimony and that he was learning a lot from what I was going through. I told him I wanted to be married in the temple one day and he told me he wanted nothing more than to have a love that would last forever. He met with my bishop a few times and my dear neighbor Tom who both told him that if his intentions were not pure that he had better get lost or they would find him. My bishop was an ex marine and super scary. My neighbor has since passed away, and I'd be afraid if I were Bio.

He talked me out of accepting a small apartment Tom was letting me live in insisting that my son and I would be cramped space. He said that when my house sold I should move all of my stuff into his garage at his house he had up for sale since it was huge and empty and he had 6 weeks of traveling coming up. He wouldn't even be at home. So I accepted. On my way to a job interview I got a call from him telling me to not go, that we'd figure out something and he'd help me out. I told him I didn't want to accept that kind of arrangement unless I was married. He told me I didn't understand, that he lived to help people. He was just that way and I didn't understand also that he was serious about me. He had told people he worked with I was the one. He said it wasn't best for my son for me to work as many hours as this job would require and I should just hang out and keep looking and be more selective. I called and canceled my interview. He had a trip to take to New York and asked if I wanted to go. My favorite place on earth. I went and when I got there, there was only one bed and not even a pull out or a full sized couch.

We came home and things were awkward. He kept making little promises and not backing them up. He became angry. He started to resent my being there even though he had fought so hard for it. I knew this would happen. He packed in a sour mood and left. I went on a job interview while he was gone and I also took a pregnancy test. I don't even know why I took it, I really didn't think I would or could be pregnant. I was. He was with his kids in California when I called and told him. I was thinking I might get a 'wow' or an 'oh my gosh' but I got complete silence. Not a word and then, click. And it got worse from there. When he came home he was surly and rude. He was talking about suicide and he said over and over that he couldn't be a dad. Which at the time confused me because he already WAS a dad. What did that even mean? I told him we didn't have to be together if that was the issue. He wasn't obligated to date me just because I was pregnant. I also told him he wasn't obligated to pay through the government. That we could work out a dollar amount, since he was paying so much still for his other kids and since his ex had allegedly stolen his life savings and maxes all his credit cards. (A little over half a million to hear him tell it.) He told me that not only was he not going to pay me a dime he was going to sue me for getting pregnant. He felt I had lied to him and ensnared him )I believe the word he used was duped) because I told him on our first date that I couldn't get pregnant. I reminded him that I do have another child, he's met him. I never said it was impossible. And it was in a normal context that I shared that information. I told him that I would be interested in what his lawyer would have to say about bringing that lawsuit up. He would arrange talks where he would press me to give up the baby for adoption. He would email me and call me and tell me I was a disgusting person and that watching me keep a baby with out considering his feelings was the single most selfish thing he had ever witnessed in his life.

I started seeing a councilor at LDS services. Which was fun, being the only pregnant woman in the waiting room over 18. I talked with a family from Michigan I think, The Brubakers, about adoption and they were really nice. The reasons I didn't were these: I didn't want my son to learn that people were expendable. My father told me about a personal friend that had done it and regretted it and he knew I would also. It wasn't something I would have ever wanted if I hadn't been guilted into it. I saw her face in a sonogram and she looked like she had my chin. I stupidly thought that since she was a girl she'd probably look like me. And then one day I saw the Brubakers on the highway, they have a vanity plate with their family name. And I thought, what are the odds? And as we all waved at one another it occurred to me that we are the same. They are no better than I am. This child would not be trading up into a better existence. I knew I would be able to remarry and she would have everything with me she would with them. And she'd be with her Mom.

I was told one night on the phone that no only did no one from his family want to be there when she was born but they didn't want to have anything to do with me. He had told them what I had done and they agreed that the best thing he could do was to have nothing to do with me and the baby and that they supported him in his wishes. They also hated me, thought I was a slut and wanted nothing to do with me. Not long after I went into labor and delivered a baby girl. The day I gave birth is an unreal story of it's own but I'll spare you that. Or we'll be here until March.

The nurses wanted to know if he would come down and sign the paternity papers. So we called him. He talked to my sister, Amanda, who had helped me deliver. And he said he wouldn't sign them, that his lawyer instructed him not to sign anything unless he looked it over first. We explained how it was just one sheet of paper and it just read that he was the father. He said he didn't know for sure that he was the father. And anyway he was in California. He knew I was having the baby that week so he had run away. Either that or again, he was lying. My sister told him he should at least talk to me and he said he'd call me in a little bit, when he wasn't around his kids. I laid in my hospital bed with the phone on my deflated belly for four hours before I set it back on the dresser.

So when I had my little girl and she came out the spitting image of her father, it stung. I was afraid I was selfish in keeping her and I hurt and I was tired and scared. All of these emotions didn't leave much room for mother daughter bonding. It was never about just the two of us, it was about the two of us and the one that wasn't there. This story goes on and yes, it gets better but not by much. It's been a drawn out process and it's been full of sadness. As more time passes, I remember it less but there is a fear that, yes, we didn't bond like I wished. Like I did with my son.

So last night, after my husband informed me of her emotional state, I went into her room and didn't talk. I didn't ask her what was wrong or why she wasn't listening to dad. I didn't try and teach her anything like I usually would but it wasn't a conscious choice. I just found that I wanted to hold her and snuggle her, in part because of the emotional day I had after what I wrote. So I went in and wrapped her up in my arms and snuggled down into her bed with her. And she wrapped her arms around me back. We talked about random stuff. And she calmed down. We all said prayers and went to bed. She had a tiny fever so we stayed home all day yesterday. And we watched a movie in her bed on my phone. And we had lunch with dad and watched shows and she had a good nap. And then last night I put her to bed an hour early. Not a single tantrum since. It's a new day here.


Emily said...

All I can say is "wow." And you're a very strong woman.

AzĂșcar said...

When I hear this story I get so angry...

But the result is so beautiful.

Amelia Merritt said...

Turned out perfectly didn't it? That God knows what he's doing.

Holly said...

Amazing. I'm amazed at the terrible things people do (bio dad), but also at your ability to overcome. Of course it's a process, but you've come so far already. Thanks for continuing your story.

(Word verification word is "liqualeg"

"Lucky" said...

Relating to this story scares and encourages me. Thank you for telling it and being an example of what a mother can be.