Sunday, December 28, 2008

Freedom from the Past

Holidays have been painful for me for the last several years. Painful because I get a few precious days with my children and then have to send them back to their father. I think that one of the hardest parts of the time spent with them is the last few days when my daughter starts saying, “Mommy, I don’t want to go back to Daddy’s, I want to stay here with you.” Those words crush my heart and my soul because there is really nothing I can do about it.

All this pain goes back to my childhood visits with my mother and the trek back to Daddy’s house. Am I angry at my father for not allowing me to live with my mother? Am I angry at my mother for the circumstances that landed me and my sister in his custody? Honestly, I didn’t know really who I was angry with until a few nights ago when my daughter uttered those famous words and my sweet husband spoke some truth to her that I think set us both free.

First, I must apologize to my beloved, I tried to stop him from speaking, thinking that I knew what he was going to say and not wanting him to cause my daughter – and probably more myself – some pain. When he spoke it was so much what I needed to hear all those years ago, and so freeing that it left my baby crying tears of relief.

He told her that where she stays is not her choice, and not a judge’s choice but her father’s and there is nothing she can do to control what her father thinks is best for her and her brother. He told her that her only responsibility is to let her feelings be known, and what happens from there is up to the person she tells. If she wants to live with us, all she can do is tell her daddy that she wants to live with us, and allow him to choose what to do from there. If she wants to live with him, all she can do is say that she’s happy where she is and pray that I am accepting of her feelings.

She said that her biggest fear is that she would hurt her father’s feelings. She has such a kind and loving heart, she would rather see her daddy happy than to hurt him and tell him that she wants to be with me. So he told her that that’s okay too, but that she has to understand that that is her choice to make. If she can live with things the way they are and not hurt her father than that is okay. He explained to her that all we (Vaughn, me, her father and her stepmother) all want is for her and her brother to be happy. And that sometimes adults do what they think is right and we don’t know the children want something else unless they tell us.

He told her that where she lives is not her choice, but telling us what will make her happy is up to her if she’s not happy. This helped me to realize that I never told my father that I was unhappy with the way things were and I never told my mother that I was angry at her for leaving. For so many years I carried around so much anger and guilt and shame, believing that things were they way they were because I didn’t change them.

I now know that I had no control over anything except for speaking my heart. My daughter now knows that she doesn’t have to tell anyone anything that will hurt them, but that she doesn’t have to remain silent and go on hurting. She can speak her mind and allow others to be accountable for their reactions.

I thank God for speaking to my heart through my husband. I thank Vaughn for allowing God to speak through him and for teaching me that I am not, nor do I have to be in control.

I pray that you will gain something from my painful experience. I pray that my children no longer carry any guilt, anger or shame for the choices their father and I make “in their best interest.” I pray that you will listen to your children when they speak their hearts. And mostly, I pray that you will speak yours.

If I can pray for you today, please let me know.

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