Saturday, February 26, 2011

I am so proud!

Sometime last year I stopped letting my Daughter talk to her Dad for the simple fact that the conversations he had with her were completely inappropriate for a 9 year old girl to hear.   She was already struggling in school and having a hard time coping with everything.  When I had to explain to her what an illegitimate child was and prove to her that her little Brother was not one as her Dad told her on their last phone call, I knew this had to stop!

Nicole continued to struggle in school with grades as well as have behavior issues.  Her grades dropped from A's and B's to B's and C's.  She continued to get in trouble at school for talking, not following directions, and not listening to the teachers.  She even had N's in conduct on the end of year report card.  For those who haven't seen a report card in a while, that's non-satisfactory!  Nicole also had a very hard time concentrating, doing homework and even reading books (which she used to love doing). 

It had been apparent for some time that she was more distracted than usual and upset quite often.  She would get angry at the drop of a hat and have a very hard time calming down.  When asked why she was mad she usually said it was because of her Dad.  She felt very hurt that her Dad was not there for her and a part of her life.  It was obvious that something was missing from her life and she was really struggling with this for the first time.  She just couldn't seem to stop obsessing about it to the point of making herself cry!

In November I decided to take Nicole to see the pediatrician.  She literally cried when the Doctor asked her how she was feeling.  He highly recommended that I take her to see a psychologist/therapist as well as have her evaluated for ADHD.  With her grades slipping and her constant bad reports for behavior, I needed to explore every option to help her.  My family and I had always suspected that she might have ADHD, but we were never really sure.  She displayed many symptoms, but we always seemed to manage.   

After having her evaluated by the Doctor, Psychologist, her Teachers, and my Husband and I, the Doctor confirmed that she did in fact have ADHD.  Her Doctor required an EKG and blood work to review her overall health, and then discussed the options with us.  I had never been a big advocate of medicine, so I was forced to do an extreme amount of research on ADHD once this was determined.

On her 1st day back at school from Christmas break, Nicole started taking the medication for ADHD.  I am over joyed to say that it has helped her tremendously.  She has been able to focus in school and has not gotten ONE MARK for BAD BEHAVIOR SINCE!  I met to discuss her progress with her teachers and the school counselor and they all gave her glowing reviews!  They said she is paying attention in class, staying focused, and her grades are already improving. She is following directions and listening to the teachers.
I am also proud to say that her latest report card had all E's in conduct for the first time in her life!!  That's EXCELLENT, by the way!  I feel like we have done the right thing and my Daughter is SO PROUD of her own progress.  She realizes that she is improving, which makes her try even harder.  She actually wants to go to school now and is reading books on her own!  This is truly a step in the right direction for her education and overall life.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"So there's a chance!"

It has been almost a month that has passed since Nicole reached out to her Father. She has not seen him in nearly 4 years. I am actually very proud of her for finally finding the courage to call and plead for her Dad to come and visit. I figured this day would come, but I was not prepared for the hurt it could cause. He completely evaded her questions, but still managed to leave her thinking there's a chance. All she wants to know is what her Dad is going to do. What do I tell her when she asks again to call? What's even more disappointing to me, is that her Dad has not called even once to see how she is doing or ask how he could help his daughter in nearly 30 days. Even after reading my letter that specifically detailed his daughters recent troubles.

There are often times that I stop and wonder how I ever got myself into this situation. How did I become the divorced wife of an unemployed, 43 year old alcoholic who cares nothing for his children? I would have never dreamed I would write a letter like this the day I looked into his eyes and promised him "I do". But I recall explicitly the day I knew my marriage was over. My husband was upstairs on our home computer looking at pictures. I was on a life changing journey when I made that trip up our stairs. I got down on my knees and begged the love of my life to quit drinking for good. I warned him that night that I was making my final plea for him to stop. I would not ask again. I knew that mentally, I could handle no more. I would not raise my children in this type of environment. I sometimes wonder if he even remembers this pivotal moment in his life.

My ex told me that night that he would stop drinking. He promised me that he would do it this time. I really wanted to believe him and probably even did a little. You always want to believe an alcoholic no matter how many times you've been let down.

It only took two days to know the fate of my marriage. If I recall, he did try using a different hiding spot for his usual $10 souvenir cup size of wine. I'm sure he didn't intentionally break his promise this time. I found the Sutter Home White Zinfandel (that was his usual choice of 4-pack) pretty quickly. I had gotten good at this game.

If I sound like I'm being cynical, it is not my intention. I have learned I can only get through this challenging life event by accepting it and growing from it. And making light of the whole terrible situation seems to help sometimes. Leaving my husband was the hardest thing I ever had to do. But I know I did the right thing.

Just as my divorce was to be final, I realized that God had sent me an Angel from Heaven to help me through the pain I would endure from this difficult loss. I had known this Angel for years and always been friendly business acquaintances.  I knew his family, and was thankful they welcomed my girls and I with open arms.  He had personally dealt with alcoholism in his past and offered supportive advice.  He was aware of my situation, was a shoulder to lean on and showed genuine concern. He was respectful of my pending divorce, my hesitation to have a relationship with any man so quickly, and he was such the Gentleman!

Somewhere along the line I fell in love with that man. He embraced my children as if they were his own and continues to this day. He is their Daddy. I thank God that he was there for me when I needed help. And I thank god every day that I married him.

I hate that he has to now endure my pain too.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Are they ignoring me?

It's been almost two weeks since I mailed my 8 page letter to my ex-husbands family.  Yes I know, I had a lot to say!  I'm quite sure they received my lengthy plea on the 4th, as I received a random text from my ex asking me why I was harassing his family.  If by sending them a letter asking them to help him understand the ramifications of what he is doing to his daughters, then by all means I am being harassing!

I'm sure I caught them by surprise by sending such a lengthy letter out of the blue, especially after nearly 4 years have passed with only minimal contact (ie. birthday's and holidays).  Even though my request was unforeseen, I would think it polite to at least acknowledge my plea.  Let me add here, I even sent a follow up e-mail to my letter to everyone on the 5th.  I apologized if I came off as harassing and for not making more of an effort in the past. I offered a more open line of communication in the future and reminded them the girls are hurting from the loss of their family.  I also sent them several pictures of the girls and offered to share more in the future.

Still nothing.  No letter, no phone call of concern, no e-mail.  I'd be happy with an e-mail just saying we received your letter and we'll get back with you.  Honestly, I'd rather have an e-mail telling me to "Go To Hell" than the silent treatment.  At least I know where you stand.  A good friend of mine told me (after reading the letter), that I shouldn't get my hopes up.  I think she could feel the small glimpse of hope I had, and was trying to save me from getting hurt again.  I keep telling myself that she is probably right.  She usually is.

I don't know why I have tried to enlist the help of a family that makes zero effort to be a part of my girls lives.  Sometimes I think I reached out to them because it is their obligation.  Other times I blame my lack of outreach and effort to communicate as their reason for staying away.  But when it comes down to it, I made the effort for Nicole.  I wanted to know that I extended the olive branch.  I let them know my girls were struggling with the loss of their Father and his extended family.  I asked for their help and the need to be more involved. 

I will give Grandma one praise.  She is habitual about sending bi-weekly letters and special occasion cards.  I received a new letter dated the 4th for my girls and Valentine's cards on the 11th.  While I appreciate the gesture and my girls are somewhat enthuased when they get these cards and letters, they have become like a thorn in my oldests side.  It's just a reminder that they are only a family she knows on paper.  It is a reminder that they don't care enough to be a part of their childhood in real life.  My girls don't need a pen pal, they need the touch and feel of the love of this missing family.  They DO like the dollar that is always inside! :)

I haven't given the girls their most recent letter or the Valentine's cards yet.  I brought them home and left them in my purse all weekend.  Am I a terrible person or what?  I guess I'll give them out tomorrow.  I probably subconciously held on to them because I didn't want it to ruin my weekened.  Oh, and Nicole has asked twice if anyone has replied to my letter.  I could tell she was dissapointed when I told her no each time.  Guess I better start coming up with my next plan of action.      

Sunday, February 6, 2011

She keeps asking

My daughter is very persistent. I think she gets that from her Mother. Last night at dinner she asked if she could call her Dad again. My heart sinks whenever she asks me that. What is the right answer here? I don't want to say no, because then I'm telling my Daughter she can't call her Father. There is something wrong with that to me. If I do say no, it would only be to protect her from being hurt again. No one wants their child to hurt, right?

Nicole began to ask to call her Father only recently. I would say for just the past six months. I think it has to do with her age. She is now 10 and the hormones are already kicking in. The pediatrician said it usually starts about this time and it makes girls at this age very emotional. It is also the first time they start truly learning Independence. They have more responsibilities and it is certainly the hardest year of school for them! I should know, as we have to help out a lot with Homework here.

Nicole hasn't seen her Father in nearly 4 years. She wants him to come to visit her desperately. If I let her call and ask him to come visit her, she is just going to be disappointed again. He is going to tell her no, and then she will be upset, and once again doubt his love for her!

My ex-husband is really very sneaky in his way of telling her no. He never really says no. He just replies with what he wants from her. For example: If my daughter says, "Will you please come down to visit me Daddy?". His response will be, "Well I want you to come up here to visit me." I'm starting to hear the frustration in her voice when he replies now. She's a smart little girl!

So last night I told her no. I told her that I mailed a letter to her Father's parents (her Grandparents) and to her Father's Sisters (her Aunts). I did not let her see the letter, as I felt it would be inappropriate for her to read. In the letter I asked them to try and talk to her Dad. To try and help him understand the hurt he is causing his little girl.

It's funny to me how Reese, our 5 year old, says nothing when her Big Sister asks to call her Dad. I really don't think she is paying attention and is in her own little wonderful world. live in the mind of a precious, carefree, 5 year old. I am thankful she does not share the same grief as her older sister. At least not yet.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Need to make an appt....

I have been taking Nicole to see a family therapist for a few months now to help her with the struggles she is having with her Father. We have been going every 2 weeks since November. On our last visit we some how ended up forgetting to make our next appointment!

Today would have been our next scheduled appointment, and ironically Nicole asked me this morning when we would be going to visit Gayle (her therapist) again. I guess that means that she likes going and that it is helping her to talk to someone! That makes me so happy and confirms I am doing the right thing by taking her to a therapist! I asked Nicole why she wanted to go back today, and she said "I just want to see how I can get my Daddy to come visit me, and Gayle is helping me with that."

I don't know that Gayle will be able to solve this immediate issue of her Dad coming so see her, but at least she will be able to talk about it with someone and hopefully understand why he chooses to refuse to come visit her.

I called to today to make the appointment!