I’m beside myself… My 11 year-old daughter recently decided she wants to live with her dad, citing that she’s not happy living with me. Unsurprisingly, this has elicited within me feelings of failure as a mother… I’ve loved her and always provided for her as best I could as a single mother (with a hell of a mother wound myself) since the day I found out I was pregnant with her. I’ve sacrificed, fought back tears from her dagger-like words and given SO MUCH of myself that some days I don’t know who I am anymore.
I’ve been in therapy for a year working on my past traumas, as has she. I have offered myself as a safe space to her and have used every parenting tactic known to the human race… I don’t know what to do. I feel helpless, hopeless and want to crawl in a hole and bury myself. She has told me she wants me all to herself, doesn’t want to share me with her sister or anyone else. She’s also been mean, verbally abusive and morbid as long as I can remember. Her dad can’t believe the behaviors I’ve described to him, as she’s never that way around him.
I feel like giving up, folding my cards and letting them fall as they may. My health, both physically and mentally, has deteriorated tremendously over the last several years and I simply don’t have the energy to keep fighting.
His brain stem is deteriorating, a side effect of the chromosome abnormality he has. Twenty-nine surgeries haven’t been enough to save him, though they have bought him more time with us.
We are told that he’s the only child in the world who has his conglomeration of medical conditions (the chromosome abnormality, spina bifida, a connective tissue disorder, chiari malformation, intracranial hypertension, and another half-dozen minor diagnoses).
The amount of pain medication he receives every day is a drug-addict’s dream, is administered around the clock to keep him from experiencing pain. It is so beyond awful that I don’t have words to express my feelings. Watching him decline is the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life and that is saying something.
As if that isn’t enough, the two children my family adopted from Ukraine eighteen months ago have a lot more “going on” than we were told about.
My two-and-a-half-year old has Down syndrome, autism, and reactive attachment disorder. She functions at the level of a ten month old.
My four-and-a-half year old has Down syndrome, a heart defect that wasn’t repaired properly, systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, atlanto-axial instability, autism, tethered cord, syringomyelia, mild hearing loss, and is considered both medically complex and medically fragile.
We’ve been told repeatedly by numerous specialists, that she isn’t going to have a long life. She functions at the level of an eight month old.
Neither of the girls walks, talks, signs, eats (they’re g-tube dependent, just like my six-year old) or interacts well with people (they interact, but only on their terms).
When we adopted the girls, we knew they had Down syndrome and that the four-year old had a heart defect.
Everything else has been a big ‘ol surprise since we brought them home. Honestly, it feels like discovering new problems with our kids never ends.
We didn’t know our son had this chromosome abnormality and would die soon. If I’d known this, I wouldn’t have adopted him, or at least not when I did.
To top it all off, my marriage is falling apart. I know I should care, but I don’t have the emotional capacity to handle it. I just want him to leave me alone. I don’t want to have to deal with him on top of everything else.
I’m struggling in every sense of the word. I don’t know anyone that understand how this feels.
Yes, lots of people have a medically-fragile child.
Yes, lots of people have large families.
Yes, lots of people have multiple children with special needs.
But I don’t know any other people who have a large family with lots of kids with special needs, some who are medically fragile, with one who is terminally ill?
If there are, would someone please point me toward those people? I REALLY could use a friend, someone who’ll say, “This totally sucks!” along with me. I know people don’t know what to say to someone like me, but I still want them to say something – the silence is deafening.
His teacher was proactive – she moved his seat to a different group and talked to both the boy and his mother. While I hope it never happens again, I don’t know quite how to manage his feelings and my feelings.
When a baby dies, we are fragmented. Shattered, we must pick up the pieces and put them back together as we pay tribute to our children, our tables forever missing one, our families incomplete, our treasures in heaven, our babies alive only in our hearts.
It is through our stories that they live forever. These children were here and they mattered. They were loved.
They are loved.
I saw your pajamas last night.
No, they weren’t the exact ones, of course. I returned yours to the store, along with your bassinet and baby blankets.
These were the same though, your pattern. The ones I picked out to match your nursery. Bright teal, with lime green, hot pink, and bright purple flowers. And panda bears. Lots of pandas.
Is it wrong of me then, that I do crave to hold another baby in my arms?
I’ve given myself time, and I continue to mourn you. But I still have so much love to give. And Ian wants a baby. I want to give him this gift, to share this part of our future together. A part of me still feels I’m forsaking you to do so.
So tell me, my sweet Bella, what am I to do?
How long am I to go on missing the sound of your heartbeat, the feel of your somersaults?
How long before it’s “acceptable” for me to want another child?
We were married for 17 years, 6 months, and 2 days.
Up until day 6,217, when he told me he wanted a divorce, I thought we were the happiest married couple ever. I said those exact words to my best friend when she tearfully called me to tell me she was considering leaving her husband. I told her that she deserved to be happy.
So, when my dear husband told me the same thing shortly after, I knew he didn’t deserve anything less.
Up until the last day of our marriage (day number 6,394), I thought the divorce wouldn’t actually happen. I couldn’t process the concept that WE – my husband and I – were not going to be married.
. I do that sometimes when I have trouble recollecting events – I pare the story down to basic facts and repeat it until it sinks in. In this case, it made me realize what a shocking and kind of hilarious story it is.
This version is a little more than the nutshell – context is important – but it’s still hard to believe. Plus, some parts were left out for too long and it’s important that I’m honest about them.
So, right – back story.
I met him on my first day of junior college and we became inseparable. A year and half later, he enlisted in the Army while I was moving to continue my education. I couldn’t stand to be apart from him, so I broke up with him.
Kids are stupid.
He showed up out of the blue, all crazy and romantic, two weeks later. I agreed to get back together with him. Two weeks later, we got engaged over the phone. We planned a wedding for eight months later – that April.
Happy, happy day! Huge family event. It stayed a huge family event for more than 17 years. We had three kids, one failed business, somewhere around a dozen moves – including one cross-country and back.
This is where I leave out one part.
Well, where I used to leave out one part. After child number three, our beloved baby girl, things went south.
Meaning, The South wouldn’t rise again. He started having trouble getting it up.
Then, it didn’t come up at all.
I thought we were strong. We were best friends. I really thought we’d be together forever. I even had his name tattooed on my ankle in a big flaming heart. (It’s covered up now. No worries.)
If we talked about our intimacy issues, he just told me I didn’t do something enough. I didn’t initiate enough. I wasn’t there for HIM enough. I wasn’t enough. We tried Viagra; it didn’t work. We had sex a total of four times during the last seven years of our marriage. I gave up.
I’ll skip ahead to tell you how this turned out.
Between leaving me and marrying her, he visited a doctor. For her.
It turns out that years of untreated diabetes shredded certain blood vessels. He had liquid Viagra injected into his penis (OUCH!) and it still didn’t work. He’ll never have another erection without surgery. I have no idea if he got it or if he intends to.
But bottom line there is, it wasn’t – and never was – my fault. I never told ANYONE about his situation downstairs until I had to.
That brings us to Year 16; two months shy of our 17th anniversary.
In February, he found his high school girlfriend on Facebook. She requested him as a friend. He was perplexed and flustered; he asked me a million questions.
Should he add her?
Was she still mad at him for breaking up with her?
Could they be friends?
I was calm. “Honey,” I said. “Oh honey. We’ve been married almost 17 years. We have three kids. We live two states away. She’s married. It’ll be fine. Be friends.”
See how funny this story is already?
The emails, texts, and phone calls started immediately. At one point, I asked him to stop texting her. Emails were fine, stay friends on Facebook – just don’t text.
But I wasn’t built to be the text police.
So, you want to text? Fine. I trust you.
April was our 17th anniversary. We talked about having more anniversaries, staying married. I pushed for a quick answer; he said he wanted to stay together.
In May, there came a day he couldn’t stop pacing. Over and over I asked what was wrong. He couldn’t give me a clear answer.
I kept at it until he said the words, “I want a divorce.”
We both cried.
He moved out of the bedroom to the couch downstairs.
I cried. I howled. I screamed. At one particularly low moment, I was on my knees, sobbing, before him on the floor, while that stupid Sugarland song, “Stay,” was on the television.
He told me to stop; Just get up.
He didn’t want to talk. He didn’t want counseling. He was just done. Wanted his Facebook girlfriend.
At that point, he said she was still married; they were just friends. She “helped” him through this rough time.
In June, he took trips to meet her, the first in the city where we had our honeymoon because it was “more convenient.”
In July, I saw he’d been tagged in photos from a high school friend. We were still friends on Facebook. (I told you this story was funny.)
These photos were for his birthday party, to which I wasn’t invited, but there they were, arms around each other. Someone commented what a cute couple they were.
About that time, SURPRISE, I started dating. I’ll admit, I wasn’t just dating; I was down to fuck. After only having sex four times in seven years, I wanted some.
And I got some.
Never anywhere near my house – no one came over. He was still sleeping downstairs on the couch. He moved out in August.
At one point before our divorce, after he followed me to a park and took pictures of me partially naked and in an obviously sexual embrace with another man, he said, “You’ve got your get out of jail free card.”
At the time, I didn’t feel like our marriage had been a jail.
Of course, now I see that it was – we were both unhappy for a long time. Now, I’m thankful he gave me the card. When his business failed, we had to start over again and I didn’t see him the same way.
I lost respect for him, loving him a little less each day thereafter. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for him.
Our divorce was final in October.
At Thanksgiving, which our divorce decree states is always his holiday with the children, he took his girlfriend, her kid and our kids to his family’s holiday feast and announced their engagement.
They got married in January on the beach with our children in attendance. I made arrangements for him to take them out of state for the event. I bought clothes for them to wear. I spent hours convincing our eldest, then 16, to go with them. I thought I was helping our kids through the transition by accepting the situation and being positive about their relationship.
They’re still together. I don’t say negative things about them, not around the kids. Of course, I hate them.
If I could explode people with my brain, they’d be first on the list. Clearly.
Sometimes I look around this house we shared – our last home together – and it’s hard for me to think that he’s not here, that he’ll never set foot in this house again. That loss has left a scar on my heart. A sensitive one.
I’m still shocked. I don’t know that I’ll ever get completely over it. I’m taking a break from it right now, but I have happily dated A LOT.
Four guys I’ve dated have left me for their high school girlfriends. I started asking men if they were still in touch with their high school squeezes because if they were, they’d soon find those bitches irresistible.
I laugh about it – to hide my pain.
I’m broken, yeah. I’m working on doing better, on being better.