After advice, not judgment, here, please. Tricky post separation situation.(12 Posts)
I split up from my husband two years ago, largely because he refused to make any changes to his lifestyle to accommodate the fact that he had two children, or a wife who actually wanted to work.
He's continued to work crazy hours, probably more now that he doesn't see the kids very much. He's a very devoted father when he does see them. When he's not around he's extremely absent - he makes perfunctory phone calls very occasionally. My family, including myself and my kids,have had a really gruelling two years, involving multiple bereavements, multiple serious illness, a road traffice accident, and various members of my family going mad. I'm now completely estranged from my own parents and very isolated. The kids, have, understandably, been adversely affected by this. They are both suffering from anxiety related disorders - the older one has severe OCD and the younger one is just super anxious, clingy and needy all the time. Recently the younger one has started to focus all her despair on the fact that she misses her father and she can't live without him. She is like a lamenting lover for him. Whilst I have sympathy for her feelings, it's somewhat shallow and quickly turns to irritation and anger. I am the one who is there for her 24/7 - he is not. I've encouraged her to tell HIM all this in the hope that he may mend his ways somewhat - and to put the locus of the problem on HIM and not on me. She has started to speak to him about his absence but still, EVERY night, she weeps and wails and cries (she's nearly 11) for hours about hour she misses him, and I have to say that I get very angry. I have twice overstepped the limits of my own parenting principles. Two weeks ago I told her I had nothing left for her - admittedly this was after 6 days of her being up till 3 - and last night I actually told her to fuck off. This is not cool. I am very aware of this. I am deeply sorry for her, and I've sought help for her general anxiety through camhs and the gp, which should be starting soon. But even one incident like that can scar a child for life. How the hell do I dig deeper and ensure that I NEVER EVER speak to her in these terms again? I'm really at my limits here.
This must all be very difficult for you and I think we all have moments when we feel we just can't give any more.
As you say, it's about working out how to move forward so it doesn't happen again.
I grew up without my father, so I can understand what it feels like when you feel you are missing out. I also have a DH who works long hours and my DD adores him although I am the one who does it all 24/7.
Can you identify exactly what your feelings are in this. Is it just tiredness of the wailing and crying and keeping you up, is it feeling pissed off that he gets all this "love" for so little effort when you are there full time. is it sadness that she seems to prefer him to you. If you can work out which of these it is, then perhaps you can deal with it better.
Regarding your DD, she's only 11 and so is just knows something is missing in her life and has fixated on her dad as the "fix". She won't realise how much she is hurting you by this.
Are there any practicable things you can do to increase contact. My DH is always to busy to plan ahead and so event overtake him. But if a shopping trip or outing is planned - then he usually does it - if I leave it to him - it just slips.
The only other ray of hope I can offer you is that evenutally when she is older, she will know which parent was there for here.
It's all of the above really. a) it's my own fatigue and need for some time OFF from her neediness, which is really really bad and currently the more I give the more I feel she wants. eg yesterday we spent two hours cuddling, talking, dealing with it, and then I put her to bed, tried to have a conversation with my boyfriend, who I haven't seen for ages, and then she was back down again within 30 minutes, wailing and crying. That's when I lost it. b) it's the fact that he - ex h - has caused this situation, yet I am the one dealing with it. c) It's the fact that she is missing him at all, when he is a selfish cunt who has chosen his glamorous career over his special needs family, and I have been the one who has been there for her. d) It's the fact that I'm already really worn down by dealing with 2 years of crisis after crisis, and I really need a break.
So I can identify the reasons for the feelings.
What I can't do YET is to dig even deeper than I am already and find skilled ways of getting round my own anger - which is mainly with him but obviously is directed at her at the moment.
Could you call your GP and ask whether there are any counselling services available for children in your area?
It sounds to me that you're doing all you can and if this isn't enough then someone detached from the situation could be really helpful.
Would it help if you tried to visualise her as a victim of his as well as yourself.
Perhaps when you are dealing with her crying etc, visualise him standing over in a corner of the room and think "look at her crying over you, and you don't deserve this". While she is in your arms - direct you anger at him not her.
Did you go through a period of crying over him before the anger. I.e. you realised that he was'nt worth the tears - and to see her shedding tears over him just seems such a waste of emotion and time. She's sort of following your emotional past, and it was such a painful time for you that it just pushing salt into the wound.
Perhaps someone with more experience will have suggestions on how to deal with your daughter.
I feel for you. My DS (18) is suffering from severe depression and OCD (constant hand-washing). I see my very bright talented son literally washing his future down the drain. Whilst I try my hardest to understand what he is going through, there are times I want to shake some sense into him. We've had so many rows and then end up in each others arms crying. I think he sometimes get so self absorbed and at rock bottom in his depression that he forgets the other people living in the house having to deal with his illness too. (His depression was brought on by his father leaving the family.)
I think you need to sit your DD down and tell her the truth about everything. She is 11 and can handle it. Tell her you know how she feels. Tell her that you are heart broken too. Tell her this is not the family life you wanted for her, but unfortunately it has happened. Tell her that her behaviour is not going to bring her dad back into the family. Tell her some of the home truths about her father. Tell her that you would love it if she were to spend more time with her father, but for his own selfish reasons he has taken the decision not to. Tell her that you sometimes want to run away from it all, but would never do that because you love her too much. Tell her you have done all you could to save your family, but unfortunately that is not what her dad wanted.
(I admitted to my two youngest DSs (14&11) that their behaviour (constant bickering and fighting) sometimes made me want to walk out the door and not come back. I also said that it would never happen. I don't think they ever thought about how I felt too. Now they do seem to take my feelings into consideration most of the time.)
I wish you the best. Please know that you are not alone. I too am struggling everyday with a family breakup. Shame these men don't truly see what they have done to their families. They get a few fun hours with their children, whilst we get the ups and downs of everyday life.
You say you've sought help for your DCs, but have you sought help for yourself? You are under a lot of pressure and it's no wonder you are reacting on occasions. So i really think it's imperative for your children's wellbeing to see you dealing with things again. You may well find that once that is sorted, their problems will diminish too.
I also think it's a mistake getting your DCs to try to mend his ways. Even if you haven't told them your reasoning, it's a huge burden on their little shoulders at a time when your 11 yo DD will soon begin to go through the attending emotions of hormonal change. Have you thought about family counselling? I know you're no longer with your OH, but a united front to try to sort out your feelings and move on might help you all...
You have to remember that you are the adult in this. I don't mean to sound harsh and i really do sympathise, but that is my advice fwiw.
I am sorry to hear about the hard time you are having. I do hope you can find support and advice here on MN and also via your Gp. Children are often unaware of the existence of the big picture and can be quite inwardly focused - it's part of being a child and contributes to their innocence. I hope you can get help for your family and yourself. All I can say is, all the friends I now have who grew up with a single parent - mothers in 6/7 cases...love their mother to bits and really appreciate how much she did for them and how hard it must have been.
Persevere and don't beat yourself up - sounds like you are dealing with a lot of things.
I would go to your GP-you all need outside help. You have gone through a lot-I'm not surprised that you are finding it too much. Be kind to yourself and seek the help via your GP.
I agree with mumof4sons I think she is old enough to hear a few truths. Her behaviour is not helping anyone say gently but firmly that you are sorry but this is what he chose. Go to your gp for advice as well as everyone suggested. Do you have any friends who could maybe give you a break? Best of luck
Can she not call her dad, rather than wait for a call from him?
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