This post is probably a bit of an open letter to her.
She was only 1 when as her father tells it, I deserted her.
And in a way maybe I did. Because I wasn’t strong enough to fight back, because he sucked all of the fire from my soul. Because I let him take me to the brink of destruction, where I stood on the edge, and if it hadn’t been for the hand of a friend, I could have easily fallen into an abyss from which I wouldn’t have returned.
I did walk away. And I own that.
But not because I wanted to but because I was pushed. And initially I wanted to take her with me – I always wanted her with me. But he wouldn’t let that happen.
And I wasn’t strong enough to fight him physically, or force him to let her come with me.
I had no power when it came to him.
Every. Single. Day.
Even now, more than 20 years later.
I think about her and most days it’s with a mixture of sadness and being proud that I gave birth to her. Because every day I see things she’s doing as an adult. Living her life. I am so grateful that she had the chance to become an amazing woman.
And I’m sad because I missed a lot of it.
There’s a lot I’ll skip here, because 20 years of experiences is a lot of ‘stuff’ but I’m going to share some excerpts of some of the good and bad times we had.
When I first left, there were a couple of months of radio silence. I would have sneak conversations on the phone with her Grandmother. Because her Dad refused to speck to me. I would get rushed whispers and I would get hung up on if he was coming. So he didn’t know I was speaking to her.
But I never got to hear her voice. Or see her face.
Until one day, he called me.
And after the initial stomach plunging moment, I picked up the phone fast. And I said hello as calmly as I could, though my whole body was shaking, with fear of what was coming.
But he was civil. He said my daughter wanted to see me and wouldn’t be consoled, so he was bringing her to my city. I stood there and let the tears run down my face, aching to hold her. And I asked when. He said that he was half way there, he would be there in a few hours and he wanted an address.
I gave him my mothers. Because I didn’t want him to know where I lived. He told me what time he would be there and I said I’d be waiting.
And I hung up on the phone… wondering if I was dreaming or this was real?
It was real.
And surreal at the same time.
As that strange visit, where I was on edge and terrified, but focused on my baby girl. Started a few years where we would do three weeks turn about with her. Where until she was at kindy, we would both take turns collecting her.
And he would send me letters begging me to take him back and demanding to be allowed to stay with me to show me he wanted to change. To be what I wanted. That he didn’t care if I had seen other people. He would not be controlling anymore and he would do anything I asked.
And I wouldn’t. Because I wasn’t the same person I had been and I struggled with the internal demon battle, but I managed to stay strong for myself.
Even after I met someone serious, he would still beg for me to take him back every chance he could. And he made my life awkward and frustrating, but I had to deal with it because I was terrified that if I made too many waves, he would prevent me seeing my daughter. And I would do anything for her.
I have so many beautiful memories of my baby growing up from that time. She was such a beautiful precocious child, who spoke early, and had her mothers very decisive nature, with her fathers way of remembering everything said or promised.
A chatterbox, and a truly sweet soul. She loved everyone and everyone loved her.
We would spend time with her great-grandparents who were smitten with her. And would offer to babysit her while I worked.
And she would stay weekends with her Great-Grandad in a nearby town, and she was the only great-grandchild who he would regularly have come to stay. She was such a beautiful soul and she really enjoyed his company.
Devastatingly to me, she wasn’t allowed to attend any of their funerals.
She wasn’t allowed, because her father remarried.
Which I encouraged actively. I even got them to hook up. He had been telling me he met someone and had been chatting to her online as she lived an hour away – but he had met her at a party at a friends house. And I told him he would be stupid to not ask her out. But he was reluctant, so I messaged her and told her myself, that since he wasn’t going to she should ask him out and I told her he would absolutely say yes!
I thought that by him having someone else, he would leave me alone.
Which did work to a degree, as I did manage to get free of his unwelcome advances and inappropriate comments and discussions. His creepy touch and the way he would watch me.
She became his new obsession which was in itself a relief and a freeing moment.
I thought her and I were friends, and I would offer her advice when he was acting out. I’d tell her what I wished I’d have the courage to do and didn’t. And I encouraged her not to let him do to her what he did to me.
And they got married.
About the time I was cut off in fact.
It came as a bit of a shock to me, as it was a slow thing. Visits became difficult. Timings awkward, and complaints made about travel. And I always did what I could do to help. We switched to flying to help save time so we could spend more time with her. And I’d often pay for the flights, to ensure I got to see her.
I didn’t pay child support, as he didn’t want it, but I would look after all of her clothing and schooling needs. 4 times a year I would take her shopping. He would let me know by sending an empty suitcase and telling me she had nothing that fitted. And I would fix that. Send her home with an entire new wardrobe of her choosing, and new underwear socks and shoes. Books for school and anything she needed. I often sent up shampoo and conditioner and anything she asked me for.
So as things got trickier, we negotiated new schedules. Changed access weeks to suit him and I got less and less time. Which broke my heart more with every negotiation.
And it all came to head one christmas.
It was my turn that Christmas to see her. As she had been with her Dad the Christmas before, and we had been taking turns. And when I tried to book her travel, he kept putting it off and putting it off until it dawned on me and I confronted him and he admitted he wasn’t sending her for Christmas.
So I went to the courts.
I fought and won that Christmas. It cost me a fortune, but they granted turn about for the custody of her for special holidays. And she did come down that year.
It was our last Christmas together.
The following year, they challenged it in court again.
And this time they won. So I appealed it and we had many, many court hearings over her custody. She was forced into having a lawyer who failed to fight for her like she should have.
Her incompetent lawyer, who originally admitted that my daughters wishes were to see both of us. Didn’t fight when her Dad and his wife filed to have me removed from access for no reason.
There was no one fighting in my corner except me. And the lies that were thrown at me from them were horrific.
And they kept winning. I couldn’t see how and every loss was absolutely devastating.
I was shattering into a thousand pieces and none of those pieces were strong enough to keep fighting. And I didn’t have the money.
As in the end, it came down to a battle of the funds.
One judge would see that it was horrible and would agree to my shared custody terms – which was all I ever asked for. I just wanted time with my baby. I never fought them for full custody as she needed time with her Dad too. And her Grandmother up there.
But I wanted her to be able to share her time with both of us. Fairly.
The next judge would rule that her Dad should have full custody.
The next would rule shared custody.
It was fight after fight and it was extreme elation with the wins, and extreme heartbreak with the losses.
And then it got to the point where I was losing my sanity and my will to live.
My relationship suffered with my obsession for wanting to see my baby.
We split up around the time that he put his foot down, and $100’000 into the court battles he said no more. There was no more money to fight when it just kept going back and forth like a bad tennis match.
And he wasn’t as emotionally invested as I, as he had not had the chance to ever really be a Dad to her, but he was left picking up the pieces every time my heart was broken yet again.
He was there with me standing at the airport, waiting for her to arrive on a flight, that her father didn’t put her on and didn’t tell me until I panicked that she wasn’t there and called him.
He was there with me at every court hearing.
He was there looking after her with me. Feeding her, clothing her, caring for her.
But at the end of the day, her father would remind him that D was NOT her father and he was nothing to her. He had no say and didn’t matter.
But to me, him shutting down my chances to see my baby, were a kick in the teeth and the last straw.
The day I walked out on him, I hadn’t seen my daughter in over 3 years and I didn’t have it in me to argue with him anymore.
But it didn’t change my reality. I was still without my baby girl and I didn’t know how to live. I left town for a while, did some growing and changing and I returned with a new outlook.
It wasn’t that I stopped wanting my baby, but I decided that I couldn’t continue not to live without her. I had to learn to live without her.
So I took the time to grieve and to learn how to be me without her, and how to let go of the anger and hurt. Shut it down and lock it away – like all the other pain in my life.
Make it disappear.
And I didn’t stop trying to see her.
Eventually I was permitted to go to her. She was not allowed to come to me under any circumstances. Even when she asked herself. And I always felt so sick when she would ask me if she could come with me, or come and stay. because I desperately wanted her to, but as I was fully supervised when I visited her, I had to be so careful with my words. As the wrong thing said – when I spoke from my heart to her, they would stop me being allowed to visit for months. I was punished by them keeping her from me.
I was allowed a few visits after her little brother was born, I was permitted to visit once when he was a newborn.
I was punished after turning up to surprise her for her birthday once. I couldn’t speak or see her for 8 months.
I was allowed to visit again when he was 3.
I wasn’t allowed to come between then nor speak to her. She wasn’t allowed to call me and when I bought her a video cellphone so she could video call me and I could see her, and it was shut off within days. I later found out her step-mother took it and used it herself, it was returned to me when I demanded it, full of text messages, photos and emails belonging to her step-mother.
I had another child. who is now almost 5 and who hasn’t met his half sister.
Because I’ve not been allowed to see her.
I’ve been threatened and told that I’m crazy and I’m not to come near her.
One of her boyfriends contacted me once on Facebook. And he told me she was always talking about me and wanting to see me. She was 16.
He wanted to surprise her and make her happy, and he asked if they could come down for a weekend. He was going to pay for her flights.
I have to admit, I got so excited…. but dread took over. And I was afraid. So I stupidly told him as long as he ran it by her step-mother and father first. And I told him to take a person he trusted who could speak for him. So he took his mother. And he did the right thing and asked if he could take her for a weekend holiday to see me, her mother.
As predicted, her Dad hit the roof and said hell would freeze over first.
He later told me his mother was astounded and tried to speak sense to him, as did he. But her father was completely shut down and walked away.
I wasn’t surprised and I apologised to him. I felt so sad for him and embarrassed for his mother. And devastated for myself and my daughter. As it hurt so much knowing she still wanted to come but couldn’t.
They broke up after a year or so.
Once she turned 18 I would speak to her on messenger apps, when she would contact me. She would tell me things which made my heart sing. I was always so happy after talking to her, even if it was a brief chat. because she was reaching out to me.
And I got brave some days, lightly suggesting she come visit. Asking her to come and see me.
I offered flights, accommodation and everything.
But I’ve had my heart broken every time, as she’s not ready to go against her father, which I respect. It has to be her decision.
I just wish she knows how much it hurts. How hard it can be to breathe some days when I look through old pictures – because that’s all I have.
And every day I look at her and regret every time I have been away from her.
Every day of her life, I’ve woken up and thought of her and wondered if today would be the day I would get to hold her again and see her. Talk to her.
Let her know how much I love her.
And that day hasn’t come yet, but I haven’t given up hope. I made her. I birthed her. I breastfed her.
One day, she has to come back to her mama, right?