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Yes...this is ALL about me, and mine. Marvellously self indulgent, feel free to tell me how splendid I am, leave comments, nice ones please, I have little kids and teenagers who can do the rude stuff. I am a grandma, to the glorious Joshua, I'm allowed to look frazzled and weary, I earned it. The older I get, the more I see that hanging on and being patient is worth it! They ( whoever 'they' are) are so right when they say you never know what is around the corner, it isn't always an articulated truck! It is vital to make the time for making memories, friends are the greatest treasure, I love mine. I am rich!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The best things.....

There are some things that are priceless and that come along rarely in our lifetime.
When Sophie was 10 weeks old, the first one left. What a terrible time that was. It feels as though it was more than a lifetime ago and yet every detail is so vivid, so fresh, it may as well have happened yesterday.
My pregnancy with Sophie wasn't happy, the first one was clearly already distancing himself and by the time she was born he was already deep into an affair with the woman he used to leave.
When he left, the most desperate feeling I had was that Sophie would never believe that he loved her. I remember standing in the kitchen and telling him this, that no matter what happened in the future she would never be able to believe that she meant anything to him and knowing that made me hate him.
She was the most glorious of little girls, blond hair and blue eyes, her little round face always full of mischief and it was possible to see the naughty at work in her quick little mind. She was like a whirling dervish from the second she woke up until the minute she fell asleep, she was never an early sleeper and was always afraid that she would miss something if she slept.
From the youngest age she would talk about a daddy, she never called the first one daddy, she called  him by his first name. He would say daddy and she would say ' You're not daddy, you're Kevin, just Kevin' and she would not be persuaded otherwise.
When she was 11 months old, she saw someone that I loved very much and as she looked at him her face lit up and she said "At's daddy" He didn't have children, she didn't have a daddy and in a world where sadness was dominant that was a happy moment.
There are few things I regret more than allowing that to happen, when it became obvious, when Sophie was 3 and a half, that he was never going to be her daddy, that he couldn't live with us I told him that he couldn't see her anymore. To this day she says that she had 2 dads walk away from her without a backward glance and she thinks that means she is as unlovable as it is possible to be.
What damage we can do to little people we don't think are understanding or feeling or thinking or needing.
Sophie used to talk about having a daddy and she had a list of things that he would do and she would say that when a man did those things it would mean he was her daddy. He would sleep at our house, he would eat dinner at our house, he would hold her hand when they were out and he would buy her juice.
The first one was a pig where Sophie was concerned, he was a complete and total idiot, a mean one. A selfish, thoughtless, mean pig. I have watched her as a 3 year old run after him as he held her big brothers by the hand and say " HEY! Do you know you got 3 kids? What about me? HEY! wait for ME!"  and he ignored her. I stopped her going to stay with him when she was 2 because I learned that his bitch of a girlfriend who did not want female competition of any kind had hit Sophie across the face when she didn't want her to put her shoes on and she had been typically 2 and arched her back screaming " I DO IT!". The next time he came to get the kids, I took the boys to the car, where bitch was sitting and I pushed my face right into hers and said " My daughter will never come to your house again and if I hear that you have raised a hand to any one of my children ever again, I will give you a taste of your own medicine, don't test me on this lady because you are lucky I am not ripping your hateful face off right now." Then I looked at the first one and told him to make sure she knew that I don't make idle threats.
Sophie didn't go with him again until she was 7 or 8, when the boys were with him she and I would spend time on our own and we were happy with that.
Sophie was 10 when I met H, for 10 years it had been me and them and with the exception of those few times she had seen the man she called daddy, she had never seen me with any man.  I didn't meet H and immediately pack up and take my children thousands of miles away to live with him but it certainly wasn't a long, drawn out process and I was sure to tell the children what was going on and include them in what was happening but they didn't meet H until the decisions were made and we moved, lock, stock and barrel. They seemed excited but looking back, what kid wouldn't be excited at such an adventure? I was 38 and I thought it was all a huge and marvellous plan, even I didn't have a clue what we were doing, if ever there was a leap or faith, that was it. So, we arrived on November 19th and married 10 days later.
The first night we arrived, I tucked Sophie into her new bed in her new room and as I kissed her I asked her if she thought she would like this new family we had made. She looked at me, this 10 year old child and said " I don't know. I know he isn't my daddy and I am going to see if he leaves like the other ones did. I'm not calling him daddy." And she didn't and she did everything she could to see if this man would leave, every hideous and brattish act she could come up with she threw at us. Every now and then she would completely turn and be annoyingly clingy to him, he must have felt as if he couldn't breathe but just as we would think she was coming around she'd turn that hard and unforgiving face at him and she'd give him the best she had, the best attempt at making him leave that is.
  I look at pictures of her now, as she was back then and I am completely stunned that this pretty, little, innocent looking scrap of a thing caused such unbelievable discontent, with such determination and fortitude. I can admire her now, now it's all over. 12 years on.
I remember one evening after a real doozy of a battle, 4 years after we married, H stood in the kitchen, held up his hands and said " I am done"  And he was, he did not speak to her, acknowledge her or do anything else for her for 2 years, he ignored her when she spoke, he walked past her without looking sideways. Howard is infinitely patient, he does not react, he responds, he will hear and will not reply until he is quite sure what he wants his reply to be. It is both admirable and beyond irritating. He will stay calm when other people have run screaming and he will keep being patient until he isn't and then, oh dear, you've blown it. He does not forgive easily once he has reached the point of no return, in fact I think, no I am sure that I am the only person that can cross him and still be loved.
In those years I could not leave the house if they were both in it, I would have to take her with me. If I went out and she was already out I would have to make sure I was back before she was, if they were alone in the house she would goad him and try every trick in the book to make him snap and 3 times he did snap. To his credit he never hit her, he would always restrain her, she was like an alley cat and she is impressive when she fights, it was still a terrible and frightening thing to see and heartbreaking to witness because I love both these people, I understood both sides but couldn't stand on either.
The last time I saw them fight was 4 years ago, she was teasing the boys, making them scream and cry, H told her that if she had time on her hands she could wash her dishes, the ones she had dirtied the night before and left in the kitchen, she looked at him and began her usual tirade " you do them, I'm not doing them just because you tell me too, if you don't want them sitting there fucking do them yourself...." She went on and on and on and then the red mist descended and all hell broke out, she walked away and he flew after her into the kitchen. Whenever this had happened before I would step in between them and then he would say I took her side and she would say I always side with him and then they would both be united in hating me, what fun.
So this time, I decided I wasn't going to storm in and end it, I would watch and see and then decide who deserved what and then I would hate them both for a change.
I saw her fighting and him restraining, he was behind her and was trying to get her through the back door and she was not going quietly, she was kicking and flinging her arms as wildly as she could, with him holding her arms as tightly to her side as he could while trying to carry her through the door. Then, somehow she bit him, she bit his hand so hard that the muscle popped through the wound...he let go and she stood in front of me as I then stood between them and she screamed that she was going to MAKE HIM LEAVE, she was going to get him sent home and make sure he didn't ever see his boys again, see if she didn't.
She left and long story short she called the doctor and showed him all the bruises she got fighting and banging her own legs against the door frame, she went to the police station and she went to see social services. I went to see her at work and I told her that if she was so afraid of coming home ( she told all the people she spoke to that she was afraid in her own home that he was so abusive that she was terrified of coming home most days) then perhaps she should not come home, that maybe it was time to find somewhere else to live where she could do all the things she chose to do that we were mean enough to stop her doing.
That was the beginning of her 19 months on the streets, living with people so evil and low that she became unrecognisable to me. I can't look at pictures of her from that time because she doesn't look like her at all. She had been taking drugs for a while and was so often drunk we didn't know what to do with her, she was lost and of course now, well now I can see what she needed. It is pretty much impossible though to love someone so hell bent on not being loved. I think only a saint could do that, I'm not a saint by the way.
3 years ago she came back, she  asked to back a few times before that, she would turn up at the house, usually late at night and worse for wear,skinny and dirty and always hungry and she would ask if she could stay here, I would ask her if she was still doing all those things that we couldn't allow in this house and she would say yes and I would have to tell her that she couldn't stay here.
One night, at 1am she came home and she curled up in a ball on the floor and she cried and said that she couldn't live this way anymore and please could she come home. I asked her if she meant it and she said yes, I asked her if she would so whatever I asked her to do and she said yes. I told her she would have to see a doctor and get help and while she was in this house she would have to do what we asked her to do and live the way we expected her to live and she said she would.
We let her bring a mattress down and sleep in the dining room, under the table. She had to get up each morning and put the mattress away and she kept her clothes outside in the workshop. This was not her home yet, she could stay here and be safe as long as she did what we asked and she said yes.
A month later, when she had been doing as we asked, when she had seen a doctor and was clean and sober, we let her bring her clothes in and keep the mattress downstairs. 2 months after that when she was still drug free, was still coming home when we asked and was still kind to the boys and respectful to us, H told her that if she got a job and was willing to pay £50 towards her keep each week, she could live here, she could make the dining room into a bedroom and she could call this home.
She went out that day and got a job and she hasn't looked back. The day she started work, H went out and bought her a keyring and had a key cut for her.
We bought her a bed and a TV, she spent her first wage on pretty girlie things for her room and 3 years on she still loves her room. A few days after her room was finished, she came downstairs after a bath, in her pyjamas and she said " I don't think you can know how this feels, to have a bath, put my pyjamas on and be able to sit here without anybody leering at me, to know I can go into my own room whenever I like and be safe and sleep in a bed, all night" I am so happy she is here and she is safe and that she knows that the choice she made to be safe, to walk away from that dark and miserable life she had stumbled into. When she was little and she was so fiesty, so full of fight and independance so many people would tell me that I should somehow break that in her, stop her fighting over everything and demanding that she be in charge, she be in control and every time I would say that to do that, to break this spirit she had would be a mistake, I said over and over again that one day, she would need that fight, she would need to be exactly what she was, strong and able to turn against the tide of what every one else was doing and do what she had to do.
I was right, I like being right.
 Not many people, so addicted to both the drugs and the life that comes with tha, are able to decide to stop, give up, walk away and do it. In one try, cold turkey. She did it, this strong willed, loud mouthed, in your face and what are you going to do about it? girl of mine. She did it and she hasn't looked back.
 I heard, 2 years after she made that decision that one of her old dealers offered her cociane in a night club and she pinned him by his throat against a wall and told him that if he ever spoke to her again or came near her with his filth she would rip his face off. I think that was when I believed she would never go back to that old life of hers.
 There began a very slow and completely incredible change, one so unbelievable that I am still a little wary of believing it.
Sophie is hopeless with money, as fast as she is paid she spends it, then she has 4 weeks to wait until she gets paid again and she asks and asks to borrow money and I say no because she will have to pay it back and then when she is paid it will all be gone again..etc etc etc and I began to see that she was still getting money from somewhere and discovered that H was lending it to her, when I wasn't looking.
A few months ago she said " I'm going to call H, Pops ( she did actually call him H, not his full name)   H is OK but it isn't very 'dad' like so I'll call him pops, which she did. 3 or 4 weeks ago she started to refer to him as dad but still not call him dad to his face.  2 weeks ago she said to me " I want to ask pops if he will adopt me and actually be my dad, do you think he would?" She is 22, how touching and beyond glorious is it that she wants him to actually adopt her and really be her dad? I told him what she had said and his reply was so typically H " Oh, that is so sweet, she still can't have my diet coke, also, I think I shall rename her Margaret." I think I have heard her call him dad when he isn't in the room, if she is calling him, I am sure that any day she will be able to say it to his face and he will love it, as he loves her. She got online the other day and saw that he hadn't logged out of Facebook, she wrote on his status " I never thought I would have a daughter but I have now and she is the best one I could have asked for" He saw it later and wrote "That was Sophie but I'll second that"
Be still my heart.
She has waited 22 years, he has waited 12, I didn't know I was waiting at all, until I saw what was happening.
The best things don't come easy they tell us, I'll second that. Oh but they are so worth waiting for.



Blogger Julie Julie Bo Boolie said...

This brought tears to my eyes.

12:14 am  
Blogger J said...

I'll second that. ;)

Well, truly, it did bring tears to my eyes. <3

6:35 am  
Anonymous Gretchen said...

I third the teary eyed business. What an amazing story Helen. <3 It just brings me pure joy in the end :)

7:09 am  
Blogger *~*Zann*~* said...

Oh, I'm crying too! Having been raised by my "step" dad, I know that feeling. I very much was my dad's daughter, loved, cherished, and the daughter he always wanted. :) It's a special relationship. My only regret is that he never legally adopted me. But then, I still was able to have his last name because of the times.

5:40 pm  
Blogger Tired Mom of Six said...

Teary eyed here too. Love this, love you AND love Sophie. You all deserve this good stuff! xxx

7:53 pm  
Blogger Sara P. said...

Add me to the teary club. I love this... So much.

1:48 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is amazing stuff. You are a great writer. I don't cry much these days but choking is cool too, right?

Keep it up! Write a novel.

Get this online..
The 90 day novel by Alan Watt.

Keep it up! Write a novel.

You've earned your stripes. Use them.

Keep it up! Write a novel.

Have I said it enough times?



3:49 pm  

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