“Hatred is poison, which damages the one who carries it. It’s a fire that burns the one who is embattled with it.”
“There is no victory in a war. All are losers…the only way to truly end the conflict is by coming to a mutual understanding via education.”
– Izzeldin Abuelaish, founder of Daughters for Life
Since seeing my alienated step-children a few months ago, I have been living in a new reality. I am thinking about them constantly – which was always the case, but now it is in an even more conscious and distressing way. I am having dreams about my step-daughter almost every night. I also think about their new, burgeoning relationships with their half-siblings and what sorts of conversations might stem from those interactions. Will their father always be the elephant in the room, always present but never discussed?
I want nothing more than to speak the truth, to reach out to them, to tell them in no uncertain terms what really happened. But in so many ways over the past years, I have always let their father take the lead. If he wants to reach out, he can do so, and I will be there as well, to support both him and the children. I feel as if it’s not my place to do the heavy lifting, as difficult and challenging – or maybe even impossible – as it might be for everyone involved.
I also have reservations about presenting information in a direct way. With the older children, we have tried in some ways to shed some light on what the situation actually was when they were little, but they don’t want to hear it. They are still so deeply programmed and their mother has successfully spun things in such a way that there are no arguments to be made.
My husband has always been keenly aware of this dynamic, and he is so good at biting his tongue, leaving the past in the past, and focusing on what sorts of relationships can be forged in the present day. I guess this is where we differ on a basic level, I want to sit the kids down and explain everything and read them the letters that we’ve written them over the years and send them our photo album from when we were having happy visits and show them the 200-page CAS file and ask them why they think there is absolutely no mention of violence on their father’s part. I want to tell them that their last social worker was brought up on ethics charges and his report is blatantly false. I want to show them how they are exactly like their father in so many ways. I want to hug them and talk to them and tell them how I’ve missed them and not a day goes by that I don’t try to send them my love through the ether and hope that one day they’ll realize that we were always here.
I have to just step back and let things take their course. Allow for the lightbulb moments to happen. Let those cracks appear to them when they are ready. I think I grossly underestimate the psychological damage that has been done to them and what additional damage may be caused by learning the truth. I remind myself that Ryan Thomas was 25 years old before he started questioning his childhood, and many other people are well into adulthood, even having children of their own, before they realize and understand that they were actively alienated from a loving parent.
In the meantime, I’ll try to let things run their course, and trust that love always wins.