Friday, April 17, 2015

Our Story (3): And Baby Makes Three

“Don't worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.”
- Robert Fulghum -

(continuing from last time...)

Children are never a mistake but raising them in a toxic environment is. That is what my first daughter lived in from the moment she was born. Her sister wouldn't come along for another five years, so she faced the constant tumultuous cycles alone in her formative years; the most critical period for the healthy development of a child. To say that it didn't have in impact on her would be a lie. And even though she only has a handful of very vague memories, this remains a thorn in my side.

Terrible examples were being set and neither one of us was teaching this innocent little girl what a healthy relationship looks like. I was a terrible female role model by tolerating, forgiving and turning a blind eye to things that were unacceptable. I had a responsibility as a mother and as a woman to my daughter...and I failed her. She was learning the wrong things from me.

The logical side of my brain knew all this but the emotional side was unbalanced. I was in denial, confused and second-guessing myself. I didn't hold my ex accountable or set personal boundaries. I forgave everything because I didn't think I deserved better. After all, it was all my fault. Always. I apologized. Repeatedly. I gave in to what he wanted after being mentally and emotionally worn down. My instincts told me otherwise but I believed the lies he told me. Deception, manipulation, emotional blackmail, shady characters, mental exhaustion, unlawfulness and betrayal defined my life. And through it all, a little girl was watching. And learning.

Once in a while the mental fogginess would lift and clarity would kick in. During one of those times, which occurred immediately after a major battle with my ex, I packed a suitcase for myself and my daughter (who was three at the time) and left with her. But it was a short-lived getaway. We returned home shortly and the dysfunction continued.

Two years later, another little girl was born. And with her arrived the beginning of the end.

To be continued... (click here)

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone.


42 comments:

  1. Beautifully written with honesty and grace. Again, this is reminding me of my friend's recent split with her husband. She waited until her girls were 18 and 15. Neither respect her and the eldest daughter will not speak to her. Tragic what we do.

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    1. I think her children should search their hearts and try to reconnect with their mom. Everyone has a story, and unless you've lived it, you can't understand the reasons behind it.

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  2. People from outside looking in, cannot understand how hard it is to leave.. that with all your heart you want it to be better and keep hoping that day will arrive.. meanwhile you are beaten into the ground by the subtlty of his actions to make you think it is always all your fault that you caused everything going wrong.. boy do I connect with those feelings... I have had five beautiful successful people, but it took me 23 years to have the courage to walk away. I finally realised that it was not me with the problem, it was him* I had loved him so much, and waited and waited for the day when it could all be normal and happy... we did have good days, but many many bad ones... so thank you for sharing your story, the impact on our kids is not measurable, and I do wish I had left before, but have had to consider that they turned out ok anyway, just sad I didnt choose a better person.. Maybe your story might encourage another to take stock and see what is worth saving, or leaving.. Take care and dont beat yourself up too much, we all make choices, with the information we have at the time, and that is not a crystal ball!! hugs from across the pond..xx

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    1. Thank you, Janzi. I couldn't have written that better! And I totally get what you are saying. These situations are very complicated in every which way. Someone who has not experienced such a life cannot possibly comprehend, so it's easy to say "if it was me..." or "I just don't get why...", etc. This goes beyond reasoning and logic. The mind can be molded beyond recognition. I'm glad that you are in a happy place now. Everyone deserves that.

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  3. If your girls have any issues from that chaotic time in your and their lives, I know your openness and willingness to discuss things honestly will help them. You set a good example by leaving that dysfunction behind and creating a better, healthier life! Your story has such a happy ending!

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    1. It sure does have a happy ending for which I am eternally grateful! And the girls are good. The younger one didn't feel a thing since she was very young when that marriage ended. And the older one had some heartache as a child but she has moved beyond it.

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  4. I am so sorry you went through such a rough time. I imagine your girls admire you for getting out of that dysfunctional situation and making a better life. That takes a tremendous amount of courage!

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    1. It's all under the bridge now. There were/are much worse situations than mine but I am happy I'm in a better place. That period seems like another lifetime. I don't carry baggage from the past around with me. I leave it behind and move on.

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  5. Martha don't blame yourself, I think you showed your daughter some amazing strength in adversity. You would be surprised what children can understand. I often question families who portray a life in a fairy tale environment because that is not real life. I knew someone who would never fight with her husband in front of her child and now they are divorced. I don't believe that child has a real view on life and living together.

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    1. I have regrets but I don't carry this along with me. Dwelling on the coulda, woulda, shoulda is futile. What's done is done. We're all in a much better place now.

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  6. I know a lady who was in a dysfunctional marriage similar to first one, add some drugs and alcohol and partying with the mix. They "had" to get married young (this was close to 35 years ago, maybe longer now that I think of it). Makes you wonder now what their choice might have been. Anyway, they too had 2 daughters about 3 years apart. The oldest does remember the chaotic times and had "sworn" never to be married. Long story short both daughters ended up marrying wonderful men and one has two children, another has one. Lots of healing took place emotionally and spiritually by all parties involved. I hope the same if it is needed with your older daughter!

    betty

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    1. Wonderful happy endings! My girls are both in a good place. I am grateful for that. We make mistakes and hopefully learn from them. And move on.

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  7. Oh, Martha, your story is so heartbreaking and I am so sorry you had to endure such a painful first marriage.
    I shed a few tears as I read this :(
    I am sure your daughter's are proud of you .. for being the loving mother you are!
    Bless you, dear Martha ...

    Happy painting (if you are still painting) and have a great weekend.


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    1. Thanks, Margie. It's all in the past now for which I am grateful. I finished whatever I had to paint this week and today I spent some time in the garden. We are having gorgeous weather and the plants are starting to rise!

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  8. She looks precious, like her mommy. (Thank goodness for that, right?)

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    1. You bet, Robyn! I hope you're having a great weekend.

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  9. My parents did their best to hide their troubles.

    I remember my brother's old girlfriend having a very toxic relationship near the end. It made one Christmas very uncomfortable. It was not a "call the cops" bad, but my mom basically told her she wasn't welcomed in the house if she acted like that again.

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    1. That's great about your parents. Kids should not be dragged into adult issues. And I agree with your mom's decision about the girlfriend. I would have done the same.

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  10. Your story is tragic but typical. We don't have an answer as the same thing is still going on. I will be interested to see what you would suggest. I hope your daughter was able to learn some skills by the time she reached adulthood.

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    1. She did learn some great skills. The past has been left behind and she's doing great.

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    2. That's really good news.

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  11. My parents divorced when I was six, they didn't have an abusive relationship they just were completely unsuited. My dad took us out every second weekend for a fun activity so he was the fun one and mum was the responsible one worn down by being a single mother. What I missed out on as a child was seeing a loving adult relationship. I still struggle a bit with showing affection. I don't think they should have stayed together "for the children" at all (I still wouldn't have seen a loving relationship!!) and you should never stay in an abusive relationship "for the children" because that teaches them even worse, as you have said. I certainly did get to see that a woman can stand alone and look after herself and doesn't need a man to look after her. But not how a good relationship works. We haven't got to the end of your story yet but it sounds like you eventually did find a loving relationship and that is best for everyone!

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    1. I'm sorry that you didn't get a chance to experience that but I'm sure your parents did the best they could. I did finally find a very loving relationship that truly benefited my girls. For that I am grateful. And I do not think people should stay together for the sake of the children if the relationship is toxic.

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  12. Don't be too hard on yourself. Hindsight is always 20/20. At least you are not in that relationship anymore.

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    1. I'm not hard on myself, really. I'm just sharing a part of my history. I do not carry the baggage of the past with me. I prefer to move on and live in the present.

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  13. yes don't be too hard on yourself, if you think you should have left sooner, when we don't know, when we are pure at heart we don't recognize deceit. I went to see my doctor at one point at the beginning of our marriage, and he told me i had and infection, the sexual kind and that both my husband and I would have to take it, can you believe that it never ever crossed my mind of why I had that, I even apologized to him for having to take those pills, it borders on stupidity but I were that naive...we can't look back and say I should have left sooner, simply because our hearts were pure, and deceit was not a concept we knew, so never think you should have...seen. known, realized, because our hearts were full of love..a person who loves can't see deceit, congratulate yourself for being too caring to image what it really meant. And have yourself a wonderful weekend!

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    1. Oh my gosh...what a terrible thing to have to go through! And it does not border on stupidity. You were trusting and innocent. He was an ass! Yes, we can look back and list all the things we should have done differently but that's futile. The past is exactly where it belongs: in the past. I have no baggage from that time. I healed a long time ago and moved on. Dragging the past around with you takes the happiness away from the present and doesn't allow you to hope for a better future. What's done is done, my dear friend. Best to let it go and release it into the universe.

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  14. Well-written and personal. My two favorite kinds of writing, all wrapped up together.

    Thanks for sharing your stories with us.

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    1. This is actually quite enjoyable. All of this is long gone and I'm in a very happy place. But it's interesting to look back and see the person I was. I've come a very, very long way.

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    2. That's the best. Truly, the best.

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  15. Hello greetings and good wishes.

    While reading this post I can feel the pain and regret in your heart. I agree as parents we have to set an exemplary example to our children but when egos clash we do the unthinkable and behave in the most despicable manner in the presence of our children. Children become mortified and unhappy when the relations between parents are strained and sometimes this will lead to strange behavior and habits.

    The mental scars on your child will surely be there till the end. However, I can see you were helpless and feel very sorry for what happened. You are not the only one to be blamed and your ex also has a share in it.

    This happens in many families and the children don't get the calm,peaceful, happy atmosphere to develop and grow. We, parents, are surely at fault but at the time of friction we forget everything and we are possessed with mad anger.

    Many thanks for sharing.

    Best wishes

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    1. Very well said, Joseph. I think all parents make mistakes, and we certainly all have regrets. But we can't go back and change anything. The best we can do is do better in the present time to make a better future. My girls are both doing great, so the events of the past are exactly where they should be: in the past.

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  16. Don't be so hard on yourself, no family is perfect. The love for your girls is very apparent and you did the best you could at the time.

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    1. Indeed. There is no perfect family. But children should be free of toxicity.

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  17. It is hard as a parent to hide our feelings and make out everything is ok, putting a brave face on things and occasionally having that mental clarity and enough fight to respond, but all the time our little ones' brains are soaking things up like a sponge. Believe me, I saw and heard things as a child and because of these I have become a strong and balanced person (well, that's what people have told me!) and I am sure your little one will be also xx

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    1. Parents are people and they make mistakes. At least all this is waaaaay in the past and we're all in a much better place!

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  18. I can just be glad that it's all over and that you are happy with your family life right now.

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    1. Oh, definitely! The light at the end of the tunnel!

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  19. Facing one's demons can be very frightening, Martha. Your girls see that you have done this and successfully too. What better lesson for any child to learn from their parents.
    Your story is very inspirational and shows that people can get themselves out of dysfunctional situations if they want to.

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    1. Very true, Jim. It takes time and I have a lot of empathy for people that are in tough situations. Everyone has a story and if we don't know it, we shouldn't make assumptions about them.

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  20. Your daughters saw up close and personal that things can be turned around. Your story is an inspiration! Thank you for sharing it!

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    1. They sure did. Happier times now for everyone, thank goodness!

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