Monday, June 18, 2018

Father knows best...

It's been very surreal watching my husband's younger daughter reconnect with him.  For most of our marriage, my husband's children have been kind of like feral cats, lurking in the distance.  They would stay in enough contact that we knew they were there, but they couldn't be touched.  For years, he got nothing but very negative, "hissing" feedback from them.  They wouldn't speak to him directly or even speak of him to Bill's dad, the one person on Bill's side of the family they would contact.  It was heartbreaking to watch and very stupid, since no one knows when a person's time on Earth will be up.

It took the death of Bill's dad's dog, Ginger, for younger daughter to start talking to Bill again.  Bill saw his daughter post condolences to his dad and stepmother on Facebook and commented.  Soon, they started trading Facebook messages.  Once they started an exchange, the relationship sort of bloomed.

Over the past year, my husband's younger daughter has been in touch with Bill, exchanging emails and occasionally talking on Skype.  I know it's been healing for Bill to be able to talk to his daughter, and it's also been healing for me, although I still don't know Bill's daughters very well.  For so many years, I've been so angry at Bill's kids, including his former stepson.  I'm surprised by how little it's taken for me to start forgiving them.

This morning, Bill told me that he got a long email from his younger daughter.  It included pictures of his older daughter, who remains estranged.  It seems Bill's ex stepson, whom Bill used to regard as his own, convinced older daughter to come to Arizona and spend the summer.  Apparently, ex stepson has matured and is trying to be a better person than he was.  He's trying to help his sister break away from their mother.  I'm glad to hear that.

Younger daughter shared a memory she had of being a very young child in Arkansas.  There was snow outside, a rare thing in Arkansas, and she wanted to play in it.  Ex stepson told her she was in trouble and wasn't allowed to go outside.  She was sitting in her room, all forlorn about not being allowed to play outside in the rare snow.  But then, Bill came into her room and invited her to play in outside.  She said she felt so loved.  Evidently, the first time they Skyped and Bill said it was so good to see her again, she had the same feeling of being loved.  It must have been amazing for her.  I don't think her stepfather has given her the kind of love Bill has.  I don't think he's capable.

She also thanked Bill for all he did for her when she was young and for what he's done now.  After so many years of Father's Days that went completely unacknowledged, it's really nice to see him getting some recognition.

I have little idea of what all has transpired over the past fifteen years or so.  Ex would not allow Bill to have any contact whatsoever with his children when they were growing up.  There is no telling what kinds of lies she told them about him or how many times she "stretched" the truth to make him look like a bad person.  It must be very strange for younger daughter to talk to Bill, hear his side of the story, reconcile it with what she was told about him, and then compare that to her own memories.

When she was a child, younger daughter supposedly said she didn't remember Bill ever being a part of her life.  Now that she's an adult, she admits that she remembers how kind and loving he was (and still is).  I knew this would be the case.  In fact, I remember during their one visit with us, Bill's daughters said a few things that indicated that they knew their mother was different.  I remember hearing them say they weren't allowed to separate.  I guess Ex was afraid Bill would work on them individually and, if they stayed together, they would maintain solidarity and police each other... much like Mormon missionaries do as they travel in pairs.

I also remember them saying about a request that they spend the night, "She'll say no.  She always says no."  To our surprise, Ex did allow them to spend the night, and they had a great time.  But that was the only visitation we ever managed.  After that one night in our apartment in 2003, Ex refused to allow Bill contact unless she was there to stand over him and supervise.  After he saw them at Christmas in 2004, with Ex and her husband there, she cut off almost all communication, except to send Bill adoption papers and demand that Bill talk his ex stepson out of moving out of her house when he turned 18.

I don't know how younger daughter feels about her mother now.  She has said that she knows Ex is "mentally ill".  However, if it were me, I think I would be very angry about being misled for so long.  Frankly, while I have no doubt that Ex has suffered from mental illness, I think her main problem is that she's an extremely angry, vengeful person with at least one personality disorder.  A personality disorder is less a "mental illness" than it is a quirk of the psyche.  In short, Ex is a narcissist, and that makes her a toxic person.  She's basically an asshole.

I'm glad Bill and his younger daughter are speaking.  It's also good to hear that older stepson is doing a better job of being an adult and is trying to help older daughter, who desperately needs assistance getting away from their toxic mother.  However, I suspect that as they get older, Bill's daughters are going to mourn the time they lost with Bill.  Their childhoods could have been so much better than they were.  It's entirely their mother's fault that they couldn't have a relationship with Bill.  Some children truly do have fathers who are deadbeats or absent from their lives.  Bill's daughters didn't have a dad like that; their mother just made it seem that way simply to be spiteful.  And that, in my opinion, is something that they will eventually resent.

The one time I communicated with Ex, I wished her luck... because I had a feeling this day would come.  When I met those kids, I knew they weren't stupid.  I knew that there was a lot of cognitive dissonance going on and one day it would become crystal clear what their mother had done.  It may not pan out exactly the way I imagine it will, but I do have a feeling there is going to be a reckoning... for all of them, really.

Bill has said that being around his ex wife is like being exposed to poison.  Once you get away from her and have a few days of rest, the poison starts to dissipate and you can think clearly again.  It took Bill a long time before the aftereffects of his ex wife wore off.  I don't know if or when her children will fully recover from being raised by a toxic mother.  But I do think that as they get to know Bill again, there could be some very unpleasant side effects as they realize what and who they were cheated out of having in their lives.

As for me... I'm just glad to have him in my life.  And while we didn't get to have any children together, we do share a lot of love with each other and our five canine sons...


CC... (CuCullain-- RIP 2003)


MacGregor (RIP 2012) and Flea (RIP 2009)


Arran


Zane


2 comments:

  1. This causes me to think of a play we had to read and then watch in seventh grade,"The Effect of Gamma Rays on Main-in-the-Moon Marigolds." The mother's toxicity for all intents and purposes destroyed the daughter who was closer to her, but made the one stronger whose exposure was less intense. I don't know if Bill's ex favored the older daughter or not, as the Joanne Woodward character did. I'm glad the stepson appears to be stepping up to the plate to some degree.

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    1. I always thought the younger daughter was the golden child, but maybe she wasn't... Because younger daughter very clearly meant to get out on her own. Ex used to say mean things about the older one, but maybe in later years, the favoritism flipped. I saw a picture of older daughter. She looks a bit older than her age.

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