Over a year ago, DD made the decision to go no contact with her father. Since she was 16 he’s been trying to convince her to drop out of school, get a “real job” and move in with him. She had other plans, but his perception of her being in school as a waste of time or something she would not be able to attain impacted her. So a number of things combined with this underlying pressure caused her to decide to remove herself from an energy that had more invested in her failing than succeeding.
Her senior year stood as a testament to the rightness of her decision. Her attitude improved and with that her grades and with that her self-esteem. She took more risks and expanded more artistically than she ever had before.
I could see she had made this decision mindfully and I could do nothing but support her.
When she first made that decision, I had long talks with her. I posed different scenarios to her that she might face if she went through with this decision and asked her to consider how she might feel in those situations. However, she was not only thoughtful in her responses but articulate in her reasons. I could see she had made this decision mindfully and I could do nothing but support her.
At first, I kept the door open to communication with him and another family member, but that proved to be a mistake. I blocked the family member. When I received a notice from Domestic Relations that he had filed a petition challenging child support because she had turned 18 and he did not believe she was in school any longer, when in fact, he had just inquired and knew she was, I decided I had had enough. I blocked him. Seeing in black and white in a legal document her father’s belief she could have done nothing but drop out of school, sealed her decision to extend no contact through the entire year and beyond.
No one has a right to abuse you, she said, even if they are blood.
No one has a right to abuse you, she said, even if they are blood. Wise words that took me decades to figure out.
The positive impact on her psychologically and emotionally is undebatable. When her teachers tell me of the remarkable difference in her as a student from the previous year, it only validates what I see at home. Not that it hasn’t been hard. No-contacting a family member, a parent is not an easy decision to make, and there’s been some fallout, but I have been careful not to get in the middle of it. It’s not my job to save someone else from the consequences of their own actions.
Sometimes someone else’s bad choice can drive you to make a good choice with a bad situation. And I believe this is what happened with DD. Watching DD give a speech at her graduation was the sweetest success to witness. I realized sitting in that audience, that this decision is more about DD saying yes to her future than no to her father.
…she could no longer deal with the stark contrast of what she called her “two worlds”. And now she lives in one.
What I didn’t realize and am only now beginning to process is what a positive impact this has had on me. Having this distance now, I find I am more able to write, to embrace my own creative projects, to look at my past and share what I can with others. Now that I feel a greater sense of sanity in my outer world, I can look back at more dysfunctional times without feeling overwhelmed.
I had already drastically cut my exposure to him the preceding year and since she entered her teens. But some contact is still some contact. No contact is an entirely different animal and I am deeply grateful for it.
I would never make that kind of decision for my daughter. I would never ask it of her nor encourage her. It had to be her own. And frankly, I never entertained the idea, because I never thought I would see it come to that. But she could no longer deal with the stark contrast of what she called her “two worlds”. And now she lives in one.
As a parent, you can hope for your child peace and happiness and healthy relationships, but you can’t dictate what that will look like for them. You can create that ideal as much as you can when your child is with you. You can make sure your child is surrounded by as many people who value her for herself as you can. And you can treat your child with respect and love her in a way that truly honors her dignity as a human being. You can also fight like hell for her when she strays, when she handles the stress she feels in a self-destructive way.
It’s not easy. And it’s an on-going process. She still has challenges to face, but then so do I. So does this world we live in. The point is, she is making this walk in her life her own. And I’m inspired to do the same in mine
No child walks away from abusive situations without scars. And you can’t change that. What you can do is equip your child with as many tools and as many examples of other ways of being to enable them to make empowering life choices anyway.
I hope you are making your own.