Sunday, February 03, 2008

An epiphany

"Does she drop the "F" bomb a lot when she's talking to you?"

"Does she hate me?"

Just a couple of the questions I was asked recently when the stupid fuckhead called. My responses were vague and elusive enough that I never actually offered a definitive answer to any of them. Because I feel trapped in the middle, I want to get the truth out in the open. Want to tell him how she really feels about him and why, but I know full well that it can't come from me. This is something she has to do herself, when and if she is ever ready to do so.

I already know that if it ever does come out, he will turn it all back on me. He'll be convinced that I taught her to hate him. That I turned her against him by saying horrible things about him. She can vouch for the fact that I don't talk badly about him to her, ever. Even when she's the one complaining about him, I don't join in, and she has asked why. When I tell her that it's really poor parenting to bash your ex-spouse in front of your children, her comment is that she bashes him herself, so it doesn't matter if I do. Plus she says most other parents do it all the time. My only response is that I'm not other parents and I think it's wrong to do, so I refrain from that type of behaviour. I'm not going to put her in the middle of my resentment towards him.

In thinking about the lack of father/daughter relationship again over the last few days, I've had an epiphany. One that has helped me come to terms with the guilt I've felt over the failure of their bond. I had already come to accept that it wasn't my place to hold them together, but there was still guilt there that things fell apart in the first place.

I spent far too long blaming myself and I now realize that I was going too far back in time when I'd think about how and when their bond started to deteriorate. I kept going back to when my mental illnesses started to overwhelm my life. Using that to blame myself for the failure of my marriage, which in turn was used to blame myself for the failure of their relationship. What I ignored was the amazing opportunity he had to step up and be the father he should have been. Instead, he chose that moment to focus on getting laid.

About six months after we split, I began what would become a two month stay in the hospital. Given that she was in school at the time, he should have temporarily moved back into the apartment we'd shared as a family, the one her and I were still living in. This would have kept her close to her friends and to school. Instead he moved her into his tiny studio apartment which, with traffic, was a good hour away. In doing that, she was forced to live out of boxes and was only allowed to bring the essentials because there was no room for books, toys or anything else.

She was forced to get up at some ridiculously early hour of the morning so they could make the long trek to her school. That wouldn't have been such a bad thing; she just would have had to go to bed earlier at night. But instead of picking her up from school and taking her back to his little apartment, most days he would drive two hours and take her to the home of the woman he'd left me for. He'd keep her there late and then they'd still have an hour drive to get back home. From what she's told me and from the emails I've found on this computer, some school nights she wasn't getting to bed until midnight or even 1 am.

Rather than focus on his daughter, rather than be there for her emotionally and provide her the stability she needed when she was experiencing a lot of turmoil in her life, he chose to add to the upheaval. She was still reeling from her parents splitting up, worried about her mother being in the hospital, and what does he do? Disregards her needs completely and throws another woman with a family into the mix.

That's where the rift in their relationship started. Had he fully been there for her when she needed him to be, a tremendous bond could have been cemented that would still be strong today. Instead he couldn't see past his own need for sex, his own need for attention, to shower his daughter with the love, affection and assurance she needed. That's not my fault.

So I'm doing something I don't believe I have ever done before in my entire life. I'm letting some guilt go. I'm no longer going to blame myself for the failure of their relationship. I'm no longer going to allow myself to find ways to blame myself for it. I'm no longer going to feel guilty that they aren't close. I did what I could to keep them together, so I can't shoulder the blame any longer. I'm letting it all go.


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