Archive for March, 2012

I know there are those that read my blog and wonder how I ever let this happen. How could a loving father become estranged from his daughter in such a dramatic way. My answer is that it is easier than you think for drastic life changes to occur before you ever see it coming.  I certainly never could have imagined that “Daddy’s Little Girl” would turn against me and want nothing to do with me, but she has. From the time of her birth, literally, B and I were extremely close. Just my opinion, but even closer than most father’s and daughters.  B’s womb donor, as I refer to her, was ill equipped for motherhood and married life. She had her emotional issues and her own personal problems. That left me as the main care giver as well as the one showing B affection. It was a role that I relished and loved every moment of. I may be big, bad and tattooed but I’ve always been very sensitive as well. It really wasn’t hard for me to be a father and I really loved the role. The womb donor, not so much. She wasn’t much of a wife or a mother, but when we divorced it did leave a hole that was in need of filling in both my life and B’s. I had custody, and was receiving child support because I had B full time. The problem was my job. I was a cop and my family really had to step in and help.

I won’t pull punches, there was a girl I was involved with and had been for a while when the womb donor and I separated. After a few months, she decided to step up to the plate. Here is where M enters the picture as well as B’s life. She was wonderful with B and I saw my daughter blossom under her care. Of course my heart was gone, completely stolen. If she loved my kid that much, how could I not love her? On went the blinders and out went common sense. There were a lot of warning signs, and a a few neon stop signs that I totally ignored before we married. I should have at least paused, but I didn’t. Her broken home, the way we got together, her basic out look on love and relationships should have told me to put on the brakes. The problem was I was lonely, hurt and needed love as much as my little girl did. It’s how the mistakes started, but they didn’t end there. I think M enjoyed the role and was getting what she wanted from her life. She had a husband and child that adored her, a new car, a new house, and really didn’t want for much. Not a bad deal for her by most accounts.

Me on the other hand, I had issues. I was working my ass off and spending less and less time at home. I had to keep up, and keep moving so I was around less and less for B. I became angry when M became jealous. You see wearing a badge isn’t without it’s peril and I don’t mean guns and knives. Women literally throw themselves at you. M knew this because she had been one of them, and it’s how we got started. She also knew that I obviously wasn’t immune to them, hence her jealousy. I was angry because she was jealous and I felt like the odd man out at home. It was a combination of ingredients that were forming the perfect storm. The marriage was on the decline, but things changed dramatically. In 2005 I faced major health issues. Those issues took me out of the loop even more and I literally only saw B when she got home in the evenings after school and cheer leading. I pretty much sat at home for over a year. Every thing had changed and not for the better. Less money, less time, and more stress was pushing an already weak marriage to the breaking point. I had become the insecure one and her insecurities hit a peak when I finally got back out into the world.

During all this I wasn’t able to spend the time with B that we had both been accustomed to. M had become the major influence in her life. In a lot of cases I was left to play the heavy when it came time for discipline and the like. I had gone from being B’s everything to a side note in her life, but I didn’t realize how that would come to haunt me in the future. From the moment of our separation,  I feel like I was portrayed as the “bad guy.” Honestly, anyone with any common sense would have seen the writing on the wall, but I didn’t. I didn’t even see my child being intentionally pulled from my arms. It’s clear now that the end of the marriage was calculated and a working plan for a rather long time. M had become unsatisfied with me in general as well as finances and life. To put it plainly, she was tired of trying and was finished. For some unknown reason she was angry with me for not living up to her ideals. For years all the time it was Mommy and B against Daddy. It didn’t matter if it were a board game or an inside joke. Speaking of jokes, there was the one where they both talked about Mommy’s “boyfriend” (we were still very married at the time) and made constant jokes about it. You see for years it was obvious that M was setting a tone of making me the odd man out. It was ok not to include me, it was ok to make jokes at the expense of my feelings. M was teaching B not to take my feelings into consideration, she was teaching her not to respect me as a parent or as an authority figure.

By the time we divorced it was very easy to transition into a Mommy vs Daddy mentality for B. It was also very easy for her to pick sides. It had been her and her mother against me for years already even if it were just a joke at the time. When a tone is set in any relationship it is easy to maintain rather than to change. To change takes strength and courage that most grown ups don’t have. Take battered wife syndrome for example. A wife who is beaten daily will defend the abuser, her husband at all costs. I saw it time and time again in police work. If adults can’t see things clearly and be that strong, how can I expect a child to? It’s been four years now and even with all the back story, it still took until last year for the estrangement to occur. I think B did a valiant job of standing her ground until she grew tired and I remarried. My marriage gave me a safety net and she knew I ‘d be alright. She saw that I now had others in my life to fill the void she would leave. I don’t believe all this went through her head at her age in a black and white form. It is more based on feelings and decisions or lack of decisions as well as the reactions to them.

You see, the estrangement started long before there were any custody issues or we were even divorced. B had been conditioned for so long that when the divorce came, and then her mother ramped up the drama when I remarried…the decisions had already been made. B was caught in an unseen trap that I myself had been victim to. There were years that I was estranged from my family to varying degrees during my marriage. As a person, you make choices based on the information and feelings you have available. I don’t blame B for the choices she has made, nor will I ever hold them against her. I’ll just continue to love her and wait to welcome her back with open arms. I often wonder how any loving parent could allow this to happen, but you see it’s very easy when you want to see the best in the ones you love most.

 

I really feel like some clarifications may be needed for those that aren’t a part of the “inner circle.” I don’t want anyone thinking that I have given up or given in. The fact of the matter is that I just see the reality of the situation that I am currently in. The reality is that B is not a small helpless child. My daughter will be 16 in a few short months. This isn’t a case of brain washing, nor do I think every alienation situation is. The truth is that a child, and in this case my child, has made decisions actively to be where they are and doing what they are doing. That isn’t to say that I believe that M has no part in this.

Looking back this was set up for many years to mentally condition B to make the decisions that would lead to this.  Pointing fingers is extremely easy to do, but honestly I have made a lot of mistakes along the way as well. I don’t blame B nor do I totally blame M for the situation. I also played a role in this whole messed up deal. I saw warning signs that I ignored, because I didn’t want to see them. No one wants to look at their spouse and see a manipulative horrible person. That is almost impossible to do, even for the most intelligent well adjusted person (I don’t claim to be either). I could have made some better choices prior to the divorce as well as after that would have had an effect on where things are. While in the midst of the divorce things got about as nasty as you can imagine. I actually took 8 or 9 months off from having any contact with my ex, M. My parents, sister, or anyone but me would pick up and drop off B. I simply didn’t trust her and had no desire to be put in jail over some lie or BS that never happened. Yes it was that bad! I’m not sure what I could have done that would have impacted what is happening now, but I do know that B didn’t see her parents as a team working together for her. She saw two people that had zero trust for the other and a tremendous amount of malice.

All that malice is gone on my part. What it has been replaced with is anger at what is happening in the moment. I don’t look back and hate M for the things she has done, but I do get annoyed, pissed off, or frustrated when we have to deal with stupid issues now. When I think of M now it just makes me sad for so many reasons. The same can be said for B. They both aren’t allowing themselves to feel true happiness and love from the people that surround them. B has made the decision to cut me, my parents, both step-siblings, her cousin, aunt, uncle……..shall I go on? Out of her life. M could have partners in raising B and a pretty decent ex (if I do say so myself) if she only would allow it.

So I am hurting from not being able to be in my daughter’s life, but there is a lot of pain on the other side as well. Living in an emotional box and refusing to feel isn’t without pain. B is hurting herself as much as she is hurting me. The difference is that I have life experience and maturity that she doesn’t have. I’m simply better equipped to deal with emotions and life in general. I honestly worry how the decisions she  is current making will effect her long term. My biggest fear is that she will stay emotionally in a place where she blames me regardless of the reality of the alienation. There really is no right thing for me to do. I followed the advice of therapists and gave B space. That space turned into her saying that I abandoned her in favor of my wife and family. So then I pushed to see her, and she reacted violently as did her mother.  It’s the worst kind of catch 22 possible for a parent. The harder I try the further away she gets, but if I do nothing I feel like a horrible parent and she feels abandoned.

That’s why we see the current custody situation as a win for both sides. I’m not forcing B to see me, and she finally has to attend therapy and discuss things with a professional. I hope she gets some perspective on things and begins dealing with her emotions. Well, I have a lot more to say, but that will more than likely continue for a while. So I think I will end things now and try to enjoy the weekend.

Well it’s been damn near a year since I last posted and everything was converted to private during that time. Blame my attorney! She was watching out for me and is as good as any lawyer I have ever met. A lot has occurred since my last post, some good and some bad. We’ve been in court for various silliness, the funniest one was for child support. I was served for being behind on my child support which is direct drafted from my account. Withing 15min I had proof from my bank, the clerk of court as well as child support enforcement that I was current. The issue came down to the fact that my ex, “M” had moved and not provided the child support people with a viable address. Her attorney nor her even tried to call and get any answers, so off to waste a judge’s time we went. Our state also requires mediation in custody disputes and she refused to cooperate, so again we went to court. The judge found in favor of my wishes and the states, but it was pure stupidity and nothing but games.  At least I tried to work it out and hold up my end. I gave her multiple options that she refused because as she said,”It isn’t what I want I am just doing what my daughter B wants.” Whatever…..

We did spend three months, twice a week staring at one another in a parking lot…NOW THAT WAS FUN! To avoid contempt charges M did bring B to our usual meeting place but they just sat there and refused to do anything else. My parents did attend one of those meetings where B was pretty hard on them and M played her usual games. By the end of the three months I had a few conversations with B  where she made her wishes very clear.  Honestly, I was just emotionally drained and couldn’t take it anymore. My mood would change the day of the meetings and my sleep patterns would go to hell, so I explained to all involved that we should probably end the meetings. If it had that much of an effect on me I knew it had to be effecting B in a negative way. The last thing she needs is more negative in her life and I didn’t want to continue to pursue her if all it was doing is pushing her further away. In the end I had a couple of really good conversations where B did say that she loved me and expressed her reasons. The reasons weren’t logical, but they were as far as she is concerned, as valid as anything else in her life.

I’ve continued to send B at least one e-mail a month expressing my love and that I miss her but not pushing or prodding her in any way. I guess I could say that I am at peace with where things are. It would be a lie, but I could say it anyway. Where I really am is at a point of quiet resignation. It seems that I am in a lose/lose situation. If I push her to see me it pushes her further away, but if I don’t she can say that I am not trying hard enough (which is one of her reasons). In the end, following the advise of therapists was the wrong thing to do. Giving her that space allowed her to use that time to say that I just don’t try or that I didn’t try enough. Again, damned if I do and damned if I don’t. There really is no right thing for me to do and I understand that as much as one possibly can.

It’s been a couple of months since I saw B last and we have had a few lawyer visits since. The modification of custody finally resurfaced and we literally just put it to bed yesterday. Through our attorneys we finally came to an agreement on the custody issue. It’s a bit of a hollow victory for both M and myself. M got the custody changed from 60/40 to at the wishes of B and a couple more dollars a month. I got court ordered counseling and more information on what is occurring in B’s life. We’ll see how it all plays out, but I expect contempt charges and more court dates if history is any indicator. To this point I have avoided filing any contempt orders, but enough is enough. You can only be burned so many times before it’s actually for the good of the child to make sure things are enforced to the letter of the law.

Well that pretty much brings things up to date and I don’t want this blog to be about bashing my ex. If it does then I am as guilty as I believe she is and just as big a problem. My goal is to vent, be honest, let other parents know they are not alone, and maybe help myself deal with it all. I’ve found a lot of good resources that I want to share and I’ll post again sooner rather than later. Please feel free to comment, it’s nice to know someone is listening out there.