It is in the little things that we do, that we shape the lives of our children – without realizing the impact. Once done, these actions can never be undone and all we can hope for is that they will find it in their hearts to forgive us – eventually. We pass the stage when “sorry” just doesn’t cut it. They’re angry for they’ve carried the heavy burden of adult sin with them since the age of, in our case, 10.
I used to think that our sequence of events (like a plot in a horror movie) began approximately five years ago, which would have made our bright, beautiful, and talented little girl 13 or 14 years old. But when I recall the exact trauma and pin the events that follow, she was only 10. Since then and particularly from age 13, she unleashed the full hell of her anger on us, her parents, who failed to pick her up on our laps at age 10 and tell her that what we did was wrong, that she was not to blame for catching us out and that we are sorry for hurting her.
She came into our lives to teach us, and even now, years later, I wonder if we actually learned the lessons we were supposed to learn. Little did we know how “the sins of the father” would come back to haunt us. To this day her father does not (refuses to?) make the connection between our actions and her issues despite many conversations and confrontations.
At times, I’ve wished it was only a bad dream, and when I awoke it would all be over. At times I’ve wished I could reverse time and erase the events of those fateful two years, or at least change the way we responded, or at the very least, the way I responded.
For many nights she probably lay wondering how I was able to make peace and sleep while she struggled with the consequences of a father who refused to man up, pick his little girl up on his lap and speak the words that would heal the hole in her soul, the hole left by infidelity. Instead, he blamed her for catching him out, angry that she dared to discover the horror on his laptop while looking for Publisher to complete a school project.
Instead, he down-played the infidelity. He was “only having a bit of innocent (secret) fun.” His innocent secret fun sent her running to me, her mother. She and I comforted each other, both reeling with shock. Although I arranged counseling for her, it was not enough. She felt compelled to confront him. His response was predictable – defensive, angry and blaming her for uncovering his mess. I was trying to deal with my own heartache and feelings of betrayal instead of attending to her – and that I would regret forever.
The counseling was too little, the hurt and shock too deep. The relationship between father and daughter destroyed. He and I had many stormy conversations but eventually patched things up and managed to build a life together. He explained that he did “not mean to hurt” us but that events in our marriage (conflict around a problematic step-daughter “the sister”) left him feeling neglected and resentful.
But when he hadn’t cut ties with his cyber-cheat Marjan two years later, our little girl had the courage to confront Marjan directly on that same laptop and tell her that she was not welcome and had caused hurt and damage in our family. Once again, this was met by anger from him which made us question the authenticity of his so-called regret and real intentions. If his family was important to him, that contact ought to have been cut two years prior.
The trust was destroyed and no carrying on as if nothing had happened would make it actually go away. The years that followed would prove some of the most difficult as the trauma resurfaced time and time again, resulting in failed relationships, feelings of abandonment, manipulation, depression, anxiety, suicide attempts, co-dependency, estrangement, and who knows what else. He would never own up or man up and she felt I, too, had betrayed her by going back to “life as usual” with him.
It was only much later, and even now that I write this, that I am able to make the connection between so many “isolated” events and the actions and deeds done so many years ago that she has been unable to let go. They were to become a stick with which she would beat him, and eventually me, whenever things did not go her way.
To this day, as I write these words, we have been unable “to make flowers grow” out of the “apparently evil, dark and painful stuff” and who knows what the future holds, but it leaves me sleepless at times as I fear it may be too late to make amends.
My prayer is please take us back to start. I want to fix this thing. I want to make her better. I want to take her in my arms and tell her I love her, that she’s special, that she’s worthy. I want to wipe away the tears and the hurt. But I don’t know how, for she has become like a spitting cobra, full of anger and venom.
I tried so hard to make good but this messed things up further because doing too much for her created co-dependency and entitlement that comes with lack of empathy and a spiteful, vindictive nature that heeds no correction and resists every attempt to parent her.
This is what I have now unleashed upon the world – let go at age 18 – with the fervent prayer that somehow, someone will restore peace, love, and hope. I don’t know how to fix this thing and make this pain go away.