I have days when I doubt everything I’ve done throughout this divorce. Was I right in cutting off communication and going no contact? Should I have eaten shit in the hopes that he would spend more time with his kids? Was I too open, too honest, with my kids? Should I have instead lied or hid the truth about what was really happening from them? Should I have pushed them more to have a relationship with their father? Should I have begged and pleaded for him to be more involved with his kids? Pushed Harley on them even though I didn’t want to? Hell, should I have made him his fucking spaghetti after that first night and carried on like normal so that the kids would have known it was fine for them to have a relationship with him? Hey, if Mom’s still making dinner for him and fixing his plate then we can surely go out to eat with him and have a fun time with him.
These thoughts have not come out of the blue. Rock Star was home a few weeks ago for Fall Break and on one of those nights she had a slight breakdown. She complains of constant stress and feeling like the weight of the world is on her shoulders. It’s hard to tell how much is drama and teenage angst and how much is real.
Some days it seems like she’s got the world by the tail and she’s so very happy and content. Then other days she seems to fall apart.
She didn’t get a “little” this year. Littles and bigs, they’re called. I suppose once upon a blue moon they were labeled big sis and little sis but now they’ve dropped words to make it easier to say. It’s like KFC and Dunkin’.
Earlier in the process she had complained that it was moving so quickly and that she didn’t really feel like she had a great connection with one specific person. Then came the reveal that she didn’t get picked to get a “little”.
She played it off like it was a relief because of all of her schoolwork but when she had her breakdown it all came tumbling down. She felt like she let her own “big” down. She felt like she wasn’t enough. I’m sure the rejection stung, although the reality was there were simply more girls available to be bigs than they had in the pledge class.
She thinks she’s stupid, too stupid to get into nursing school. I have been telling her for at least two years now that her cousin, the one who graduated a year ago as a nurse, isn’t one bit smarter than her. She had a 3.8 GPA in high school, for crying out loud! And yet she continues to say her grades are awful, they’re not good enough on their own to get her into nursing school and she knows she’s too stupid to pass the nursing school exam.
She’s always been a perfectionist, though. She has a 3.3 nursing GPA right now. I have had the conversation with her that goes something like this: I find it very hard to believe that only straight A students get into nursing school. The kids that aren’t getting in are the ones like the girl in your biology class that was rockin’ that 1.8 GPA.
When things calmed down I did suggest she go talk to her advisor because surely he or she could let her know what she needed in order to get into nursing school. Maybe the advisor can lay her concerns to rest. I also reminded her that she’s always been hard on herself and that her version of bad grades probably means she’s getting a B in something, which she did admit.
She told me her anxiety and depression is getting worse, despite being on medication. She says she doesn’t have much of an appetite and that she can make a single cup of coffee last for about four hours because she just can’t drink it that fast anymore.
And always there are the issues with her father.
I’d like to knock the shit out of any of those people who say that affairs are between two consenting adults, or who try to sell that bullshit that as long as you’re happy your kids will be okay. I’d like to run over the next person who dares utter the phrase, “Children are resilient.”
Yeah, they’re so fucking resilient that that evening when she was having her meltdown all I could do was think, “Oh God, please don’t let me get a call from the university informing me they’ve found my kid’s body after she’s committed suicide.”
Hey, her dad’s happy and that’s all that matters, right?
A little back story. My aforementioned niece, the nurse, just got married last month. My other niece, Queen Bee, was invited to be in the wedding. Rock Star was not. She’s been wanting to be in a wedding ever since her childhood best friend was in her sister’s wedding back when they were probably only 13 years old. Rock Star, Queen Bee, and Florence Nightingale have done almost everything as a trio throughout the years so I think it was yet another rejection.
Nonetheless she put on a brave facing, declaring it was no big deal and that she would undoubtedly be in a lot of weddings in the upcoming years because of her close ties with her sorority sisters.
Then came the big day. Florence Nightingale made the decision to walk up the aisle unaccompanied. But later that night at the reception there was the Father/Daughter dance.
I was keeping an eye on Rock Star and checking on her reaction. Nothing seemed amiss that evening but the night of her meltdown she told me she was bawling during it. In my defense I was across the room from her.
It hurts her to realize she will never have that. As she said, “My dad doesn’t care enough about me to do something like that for me.” At one point during the conversation she mentioned him abandoning her without saying a word, not loving her enough to stick around, and spending the last four years making her life a living hell.
I gave her the same speech I gave to her brother a little while ago. He is your father. I understand if you want to have a relationship with him. You aren’t being disloyal to me by having a relationship with him.
“I don’t want to have a relationship with him!” she replied, still crying. There was something in there about him “making” me suicidal and how she couldn’t lose me. I stressed to her that I’m doing fine and that once I was away from him I no longer felt like that. Of course, that’s where the guilt kicks in again. Maybe I should never have opened my mouth. I’m too damn flippant sometimes. When I mentioned that in passing one time (and I don’t even remember what brought it up) she got a shocked look on her face but nothing else was said. I assured her at the time that I was fine and no longer felt like that. But in hindsight that was a terribly heavy burden to place on her and I’m sure the fear is always there that something else he will do will end with me wanting to end my life. He does have a habit of yanking the rug out from under us every six months to a year.
I’m pretty sure she went on to say that he was a horrible person and he continues to make everything about himself. Hmmm… that does sound familiar.
I think she’s between a rock and a hard place. She wants something she knows she can’t have. She wants to be a daddy’s girl, even though she never was even when we were together. She wants that close relationship but she realizes it’s never going to happen. He’s not that person. And ultimately she knows exactly what kind of a person he is and knows that’s not the type of person she wants in her life. Sure, he would walk her down the aisle. Hell, he’s already told her that he wants to do exactly that when the day comes.
I know I moved you 2000 miles across the country, away from the only friends you really remembered, and away from your true love, gymnastics, only to cheat on your mom and leave you all behind. I realize I put my own wants and desires and pursuit of happiness ahead of you and anything you might have needed as a young teen. I conned you into believing I suffered from PTSD so you would feel sorry for me. I moved out of our house and out of the state without saying a single word to you or your brother. Bummer that you had to move out of your new home and leave your new friends behind. I know I spent years whining about having to switch schools every year when I was younger, and I know I insisted we move when we did because I was supposedly so concerned about not moving you once you began high school but it turns out it doesn’t concern me at all that you had to switch high schools right as you began your junior year. I don’t care that you had to move in with your grandmother and don’t have a home of your own; I’m rocking that five bedroom home in the “most sought after subdivision”. I don’t care that you didn’t get your driver’s license when you were supposed to, thanks to me and Harley, or that your last two years of high school were awful. I’m not willing to help you out with college or to pay your medical insurance or help with your phone bill or your car insurance. But I want you to know it would mean the world to me to be able to walk you down that aisle on your wedding day.
Yeah, that about sums it up. He would be there with bells on if she asked him to be.
Unfortunately I don’t think that’s what she really wants. I think she wants him to want to have a relationship with her. She wants to know she’s loved and missed. She wants to be able to reject him and hurt him, the way he has hurt her these last four years. She wants to know she matters. Sadly, I think she knows that she doesn’t matter to her dad. He’s way too busy with his whore cousin and her kids.
He couldn’t be bothered to come to any of her events but he can put on a damn Cardinal t-shirt and support the whore’s daughter. Guess those crowds at the gym didn’t give him the heebie jeebies like he claimed they did when it came to Rock Star’s gymnastics. He couldn’t be bothered to send extra money so I could buy her a Homecoming dress only weeks after he was discovered. No, he was too busy spending $4400 on an engagement ring for his cousin that month; but two months later he could spend $300 on a dress for the whore’s daughter. He couldn’t buy his own daughter a car but he sent $500 to the whore so she could pay for repairs for her daughter’s vehicle. And on top of that, he made big promises about buying her a car as well. He was so busy buying the affection of Harley’s kids that he neglected his own. Just like he could make a 12 hour round trip drive to go see the whore every single weekend and yet the only time he has ever made the drive to see his own kid(s) was Rock Star’s graduation. I think that was solely so he could know the precise time to cut off child support for her.
Maybe it would be better if he would disappear altogether. Instead he randomly pops back up. He’ll send a text designed to elicit sympathy. He’ll say something negative about me. He’s always oh so sad and he always wants her to know he loves her to the moon and back.
She feels guilty about “being mean” to Tammy Faye, the person who engineered Jerry Lee and Harley’s hookup. She didn’t call her when she was dying. She feels like she’s a horrible person for not responding to her. There is always all this guilt heaped upon her.
I reminded her that aside from Facebook, and maybe one holiday card, Tammy Faye had never reached out to her. She never bothered to call or text after the very first episode when the kids found out, when she demanded to talk to her and then threw the phone on the ground as she walked off crying. It was all postings on Facebook about how she loved her so much and she was her flesh and blood. That’s not really all comforting considering she was crowing her unconditional love for her new “grandkids” as soon as Jerry Lee replaced us all.
Even if The Saint lied and Tammy Faye didn’t encourage Harley to call Jerry Lee she still had absolutely no problem with what they were doing. She went as the third wheel to a fucking funeral with the two dipshits, for crying out loud! She never told Rock Star she was sorry about everything that had happened or expressed any sympathy about everything she lost due to her father’s behavior. There was never an, “I’m sorry you didn’t get your license on time,” or “I’m sorry you had to move out of your house,” or “I’m sorry you have to move again and leave behind all of these new friends you’ve made.” Not a one of them know the hell she went through her last two years of school.
I reminded her that having boundaries wasn’t “mean”. She distanced herself for a reason. She really only had two choices. She could maintain her boundaries, which pretty much boils down to, “Anyone that doesn’t have a problem with what my dad did is not someone I want in my life,” or she can cave to the pressure. If she wants to pretend it’s all fine and that she has no problem with what her father did then that’s up to her.
Most recently she was invited to the Jackass family reunion (paternal side of the family). Oh, not by him. She was invited by his sister-in-law, the one I recently unfriended. “Why won’t they leave me alone?” she asked me.
The short answer would be: You’re still family.
The slightly longer answer would be: They love you. You’ve never come right out and said to any of them, “Leave me alone!” or, “If you are okay with what my dad did I want nothing to do with you. When you support him and his whore, you’re not only supporting what he did to my mom, but what he did to me and my brother as well. You can’t tell me you love me and care about me when you don’t have a problem with what he did because his behavior has destroyed my life.”
I know the guilt should not be mine to bear. It should be his! But he’s totally oblivious. He never has to see her in pain. He never looks into her face when she is disappointed yet again. He is unaware of the stress and the struggles, the anxiety and the depression. He lives in a make-believe world where his happiness justifies everything.
I will always feel guilty when these things come up. When my child hurts, I hurt. And as always I am left wondering, “Was there anything else I could have done? Was there anything I could have done differently?”
Fortunately for me, the answer is always, “No, he’s an asshole. Nothing you could have done would have changed that.”