Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Best/Worst

My ex and I separated at the end of 2002. Well, not "officially", I guess, but geographically. I came to California for an extended stay with my parents because I needed a break. At that point we thought we might still be able to work out our differences. Around January we decided we were going to make a permanent move to CA. We put our house up for sale and I went back home in Feb. to pack up our house and move it out here. At that point I'd already found a job (at the same company I'm with now) and my boss agreed to give me a month off to get my stuff in order. The RB stayed behind until the house sold and he got a transfer through his job.

For all of 2003 and some of 2004, the RB (Rat Bastard, my ex for those of you who don't read my personal blog) and I talked about him moving out here and us staying together. As I'm sure you can imagine, that time was pretty hard on the kids. I really screwed up, because I never sat down and talked to them about making the move to CA permanent. Sometimes as adults we forget how much children really understand, and I was totally guilty of that. Basically, the kids (well, mostly The Girl) were operating under the assumption that we were just on a really long vacation and we'd eventually be going back home.

Then I decided to file for divorce. Trust me, it was a long time coming. The RB, in a last ditch effort to stop me from doing it, finally moved here 2 days after I told him I wanted a divorce. I honestly don't know what he thought he'd accomplish by doing so, because I was done at that point and when I'm done, I'm done. Even though I wouldn't let him stay with me and the kids, I think he still thought he'd be able to change my mind, so he found a job and an apartment and asked if he could take the kids every other weekend.

Then he set out to completely fuck up the kids' heads. Or maybe he just wanted to fuck up mine, but regardless it was the kids that got hurt. He would say things like, "Well, we wouldn't be getting a divorce if it wasn't for your mom. I love her and want to be with her, but she doesn't love me", at which point the kids would come home wanting to know why I didn't love their dad anymore. Or even better, he'd say things like, "Well, I just want us all to be a family, but your mom doesn't want that", which prompted statements from the kids like, 'You hate us! I know it!". Fabulous, right?

As I'm sure you can imagine, by the time the RB was served with divorce papers and decided California wasn't the place for him (thank you Lord) the kids were well and truly fucked up. Especially The Girl. There's a bit more to the story, but it's not something I can really write about - not yet. Maybe someday. I will give you the short version, though: Basically the RB decided he'd be able to win me back my refusing to see The Girl. So every other weekend he'd show up and pick up Little Man, but leave The Girl behind. I can't really tell you more than that, because it's something I still haven't gotten over. I can't even express a portion of the psychological damage he inflicted on her by doing that. For almost 4 months he refused to see her, up until and after he moved away. So she never even got to say goodbye. I'm fucking sick, SICK, just typing that out. I can't tell you what it was like to live it.

Anyway...

The Girl was pretty messed up by the time he left. Emotionally she was wiped out. I took her to counseling, but she refused to talk. She'd just sit there. At home, everything sucked and she hated life. Hated it. She was 5 at the time. I've never in my life seen a more depressed 5 year old. Remember how I said I screwed up by not talking to the kids about our move to CA being permanent? Well, that really came back to haunt me after the RB left. Naturally The Girl felt that CA was the root of all evil and the entire reason for the divorce. And of course the RB totally played into that before he stopped seeing her, saying things like, "Well, if your mom hadn't moved you to California, we'd still be together" and other such bullshit. Argh.

The point is, she was totally depressed, hated me and blamed being in CA for all of it.

It was then that we started doing Best/Worst. I started it because The Girl hated everything and nothing was good or right in her world. She used to say that. No joke. Sadly, she really meant it.

So every night at dinner we'd go around the table and tell the best part about our day, and then the worst part about our day. On the days we didn't have a worst part, we wrote it down on a piece of paper and put it on the fridge. That way, on days when we couldn't think of a best part and the entire world sucked, we could look at the list and say, "But on Saturday the 1st, we didn't have a single bad part to our day, so see, there ARE good things in life".

It took close to a year, but I was finally able to get The Girl out of her funk. Well, for the most part. She still has some insecurities that stem from that time, but MM has been a major influence on her and I've seen an improvement since he came into our lives. I'm very thankful for him and for the strong support of my family.

Best/Worst stuck, though. We still do it every night at the dinner table. Now, it's not only a good way to remind the kids that there's good in every day, but also a great way to keep up with what's going on in their lives. Plus, I think it helps show them that we're interested in what they have to say, and it's ok for them to talk about stuff with us.

We even do Best/Worst when company is over. My BIL especially loves it. Every time he comes over he asks if we still do it and then can't wait for his turn to come around. It's really cute.

We also still keep a list on the fridge for days when we don't have a worst part. It's not as often now that we have to check it to remind ourselves that there's good in life, but the little reminder is nice - even for me.

11 comments:

Dev said...

Beautiful post, Holly. And I'm just pissed reading this though. RB should be ashamed, he really should be. Does he not realize that he's messed with her head for the rest of her life???

I went through a similar thing growing up. My father didn't openly refuse to see me, but he didn't keep it a secret that I wasn't his favorite. That messed with me for years. Luckily, my mom married a wonderful man who loved me and eventually I became to see him as my Dad; my father, was just my father. Big difference.

Christine said...

Holly that's such a sad post, but also full of hope and healing. Unfortunately, we can't change our pasts and how we've been trespassed (I wish!). What is in our power, however, is affecting the here and now. And it sounds like you and MM are doing wonderful things to help her heal and know the power of love.

CindyS said...

I'm sorry your daughter had to deal with such horrible treatment. How an adult can't see that a child (5 years old!!) needs love and attention is mind blowing. And now I'm not sure Rat Bastard is a good enough name for him.

Wonderful idea about the best/worst and I love that you post the days where nothing bad happens.

I'm hoping your daughter will have the same experience with MM as Dev did with her dad. And I think it will happen!

CindyS

kmont said...

It is amazing what some parents do/don't do in a divorce. I can understand the not discussing things on your part, Holly. When kids are that young, well you're right, we often think they won't know what we're talking about anyway.

Someone in my family went through a similar experience that your daughter did with the RB, so I know the situation of a parent that intentionally does these kinds of things, what RB did. I hope The Girl grows up to be very happy - and it sounds like her mom is extra special for being there for her too.

Lori said...

I hate it when adults attempt to hurt each other by playing the kids. It just chaps my hide. Argh. But it sounds like you handled it the best way that you could at the time, and now you and the kids have a really good life. Trust me - The Girl will know what's what when she grows up.

As for Best/Worst... I swear sometimes we do things so similarly it scares me. We do High/Low. Same exact concept. Share the high point of your day and the low point of your day. Often it gives the kids a chance to see the effects that their actions have on us as their parents, because sometimes our lows are when the kids fight, or when the school called for such-and-such.

But it also has the opposite effect. Often a high will be seeing a great report card, or seeing a smile on their face when they had a good day.

And I agree - their friends love coming to our house and doing high/low. Interestingly, the people who don't enjoy it are my family (my bro and sis). My nephews both love it, but my nieces hate it. I wonder what that says?

Katiebabs said...

What a fucking piece of shit. I am shaking right now in anger for what a so-called father would do to his daughter.
I am so glad things are working out for you and your family.
The Best/Worst idea is a great thing. ((HUGS))

Casee said...

I remember when he did that and wanting to hunt him down and beat him w/ something really heavy. I still can't believe he actually did that. Fucking bastard.

I think the Best/Worst idea is a great one. We might have to try doing that here. It's a great way to communicate.

Missy said...

If people ask why I'm crying at work, I'll just direct them here, mkay?

I never got to do Best/Worst when I was there, but this is what I would have said:
Best: Meeting you (obvsly) and your family, especially The Girl, who is an awesome person and you guys should be so proud.
Worst: Not staying long enough I KNOW.

Kris said...

That is a horrible thing to do to a child, poor Girl :( I am glad that she is doing better, have MM give her a hug for me.
The best/worst list is a great idea, I love it. Too many parents do not talk with their kids anymore.

Mark said...

almost made me cry sister

Tracy said...

I'm so glad that The Girl has started healing from the abuse that the Rat Bastard put her through. It's amazing to me that even for one minute he would think that that was ok in any way, shape or form...much less 4 months worth. He is evil and must be destroyed.

Good for you for getting her out of her funk and starting the best/worst. I think I might have to start this at my house just to get my oldest to talk. She doesn't like talking in the evenings - just the mornings when we're trying to get ready to go! :)

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