Monday, September 17, 2012

The First Good-Byes

We haven't had much time together as a whole family this past few years. First, Brooke flew off to Germany to go to school. She came home for the summers, but she was gone for two and a half years.

That first good-bye nearly killed me. Watching her walk away, suddenly very grown up. I'd like to say that I handled it as the most mature of parents would, bravely armed with the knowledge that she was going on a wonderful adventure. I couldn't bear to watch her walk through the security gates so I turned around and caught Sugar's jaw shaking. When my grandmother's jaw shakes all bets are off.

I spent a good part of the next month crying at the drop of a hat. I tried to muck out her room for her, but I just sat in the middle of her room and cried. Her room sat unpacked until we moved into the home we live in now.

Brooke is a Green Day girl, they aren't just her favorite band they mean the whole world to her. And for that first year I had to avoid Green Day totally. While enjoying a birthday dessert run with a friend of mine I broke down in the middle of Applebee's when I heard "Time of Your Life."

Yes, I did learn to handle it better. I guess we all do, we have no choice. My kids are still teenagers, I thought I had a long time to go before empty nest syndrome reared it's ugly head. A lot of mommas are feeling it right now. As babies head of to school big boys and girls and big boys and girls head off to become women and men.

It was a little bit easier to let go of Justin last year and Mystery this year because their dad is a lot closer now. A six hour drive versus half a world. I get to see them fairly regularly, and we can stay in contact. Justin and I even pass notes while he's in class through one of his projects.

Mystery, she's always been my independent one. I haven't heard a lot from her since she went to live with Daddy, but I didn't expect to. She has always been a very busy girl, only her interests have changed with age. Boys are replacing bunnies and school dances are far more interesting than documentaries with mom.

Brooke is 18, but she will be 19 at the end of October. Justin, my only boy will turn 16 just after that. The baby of the family, Mystery, is 13 until May. I was supposed to have a few more years with them, but things just don't work out the way we'd like sometimes.

They are going to grow up one way or another, and I know I can't stop it. In fact that's kind of what we've been working towards all along. What we didn't know is that my husband's little girl would need us even more than my kids did. And we had no way of knowing the chaos that her extended family would bring to us through her.

My husband was never married to her mother, in fact they were never really together. It doesn't take a lot to bring a child into this world. All of this happened a few years before I met him, and I not only knew that he had a child, I knew her mother. Better than my husband did actually. I went to high school with her, and her first husband was my ex-husbands best friend.

I came with baggage too, I met a confirmed bachelor and within a few months he was coming home to a woman, three kids, two dogs, and a mortgage payment. I had just escaped a rape attempt and was not dealing well with it. I wasn't even divorced from my ex husband when we met.

But as prepared as we thought we were, neither of us ever dreamed that her mother would be as involved in our lives as she is now. When Rose was with her, we really only had to deal with her every other week. We heard a few things that worried us, saw a few things too but once it all broke and Rose had to come live with us we got the daily version.

Rose is a good kid, she is trying to work through the things she's experienced. She's come a very long way with us too. Her grades have not only improved, but her skills testing have gone off the charts. Coming up as much as two grades a year. Her speech problems had improved as well.

But then something happens in her moms life that sends her off of the rails. Even living with us full-time, when her moms life becomes unstable everybody elses has to follow. It affects my step-daughter, it affects my marriage, and it affects my kids. We are always doing damage control for something quite beyond our ability to control. And we can do nothing about it.

I miss my husband. I miss my family. But I can't stand feeling like everything is out of control. I had to step away for awhile and clear my head. Try to figure out how to make some for of workable family among us again. I can live without my kids part time, but we still need each other. We have always worked together as a team and I hope in some capacity we always will.

We will be together again as soon as we figure out how to get things back under-control again. Ed and I talk every night, but when the subject of how to fix all of this comes up the line goes dead. No way to control another person, no way to go back in time and change it, no way to make it go away. We have to deal with it... and we know... but the how keeps stumping us.

Two of my kids are in Colorado Springs, My husband and step-daughter are back home, my oldest is back home with them but she can't live with the chaos either, so she has her own camp trailer to live in. I am 8 hours away in Arizona.

No, this is not the family we worked so hard to build at all. Not at all.

Someday I will have to forgive Rose's mother for that, but I do not think that today will be that day. Tomorrow is not looking good either.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Step Parents and Reactive Attachment Disorder

I don’t want to hurt anybody, of that much I am certain. But I did, and this I know. And yes, I hate myself for it. But I didn’t know what else to do. When I figure it out I will let you know.

At this time home is not a happy place. We have a happy marriage. We have a happy family. But our home life has been hijacked by the baby-momma. She is a Dementor.

No matter how hard I try to keep my marriage and my family on keel there is this big dark force just sucking the life right out of us. There are literally times when I am afraid to do or say anything. We just have to try talking some more. Smile and hope it goes away. If we discipline, mommy just makes it all better. Smoothes it over. And makes sure it keeps right on happening.

Or accuses us in court.

A kid gets caught stealing your bras and panties, you should be able to do something. Goes through your private things. Tries to pit one person against another. Lies. Steals. 

My step-daughter has a lot of symptoms of Reactive Attachment Disorder but shes never received treatment for anything specific. She sees a general counselor that she likes, but there is no diagnosis that gives us a sign. All I know is that it is an ongoing battle with many of the symptoms on the list. We’ve caught her holding pets by the throat. She is seductive with boys, including my son.

I can’t keep smiling and saying don’t wipe boogers on the bathroom wall anymore. You are 12. We know better. I can’t keep ignoring the things that go missing. She has pulled chairs out from behind me, smashed my children's toys to pieces, stolen my private notebooks.

And I don’t want to share my most private spaces and things with anybody but my husband. Come on man, my bras, underwear and socks? And it isn’t because she doesn’t have clothes. She has piles of them and her mother sends trash bags of more clothes every few months. It is that they are not hers. So she wants them. And she admits it.

She eats all of my gluten free food too. I have to keep food in the house that she doesn’t like just so I can eat. Whole gallons of ice cream disappear. Boxes of cookies. And sometimes... we find those half full boxes crammed in the trash. Sandwiches with two bites missing. Apples barely touched. And the stuff we find in her room....

And her mother offers nothing. No money. No discipline. No support. Just grief. She  is just there to make sure we can do nothing about anything. We made her miserable by taking her child and she is bound and determined to make us the same.

And maybe she wins... I don’t know.

I don’t want to be to my breaking point. But the joy and life is being sucked out of my home by someone who doesn’t even live there. All of the things we valued as a family are being sucked out of us. My husband is my best friend. My soul mate. But we just flat from one crisis to another and it never stops. Ed is as lost as I am. Nothing we have tried has really worked.
My kids all moved out. They no longer want to live at home. That kills me. It kills me every single day that I can’t provide a home for my kids that they want to live in. They want to be with mommy, they want to be with Ed, they want to be a family again but everyone just got to their breaking point.

My family is falling apart and all I can do is watch it.

I feel really, really alone in this. And so does he.

And we shouldn’t, we have worked hard to build a strong marriage over the last ten years. It should be Dementor proof, but I’m not so sure anymore. We are all just so tired.

She rewards what we try to punish and punishes what we try to reward.

It is his daughter and if he asked me to choose between him and my children he knows which choice I would make. But he loves me and he would never ask. And I love him so much I can’t ask him to make that choice. He has to choose his child.

So I sent one of my children away, and then another, and finally my little Mystery. They were being exposed to things they didn’t need to be exposed to. Thanks to an older sister with no boundaries, such lovely details as what oral sex tastes like and detailed explanations of sexual abuse have been shared with my children.

I worked hard to raise my children without those influence in their lives and someone else's carelessness as a parent is taking it away from me. I had no choice but to let my kids go. I have no way of bringing them back. I have always, always, always tried to do what is best for my kids and I have to admit that what is best for them is not being with me right now. And now I have sent myself away too.

It kills me every single day.

No more rock star fridays. No more dressing up together at Halloween. My reasons for being have gone somewhere else to live better lives and I can’t do anything about it. Because it’s true. And if I had been the one who was putting them in danger it would be one thing. But it was someone else. And she is putting a huge strain on my marriage too.

My husband, I don’t know where he is. He wasn’t like this before the Dementor took over either. It has just drained the life out of all of us. I know where he is physically, but emotionally? My husband is the love of my life. But I don’t know what to do anymore.

We can’t send his daughter back, we love her too much for that. We all do. She has already seen and experienced way too much. We all have a responsibility to protect her. To keep her safe. And that responsibility is going to last at least another six years.

I don’t know what to do... I have failed. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

25 Ways to Talk So Children Will Listen | Ask Dr. Sears®

25 Ways to Talk So Children Will Listen | Ask Dr. Sears®

There are some excellent pieces of advice here. Some of my favorites...

1. Connect Before You Direct
8. Begin your Directives With "I want."
12, 13, & 14 Speak Developmentally, Socially and Psychologically Correctly and...
24. Use "When You…I Feel…Because…"