PunchbagsMy ex is having a bad time of late. That means we all are. The one who’s taking the brunt of it is my ten year old girl, K. She’s been staying with me over Christmas and New Year whilst I’ve been off work and this has been heartbreaking in so many ways. Firstly, it’s been wonderful having her here. She’s been talking to me.
The first I suspected something odd was happening was when, the other day, she let me take one of her wobbly teeth out with my fingers. I was touched by the trust. This has led to many discussions about things I was ignorant of. For instance, she told me what she remembered of the time her mum told her they were leaving me when she was 6. She could remember the place, what time of the year it was, and she said she cried so much she used up a whole toilet roll and filled the waste paper bin with it.
She told me about the times now when she goes in to ask her mum if she can have a snack or a glass of water and her mum talks to her like she’s dreaming, saying things about her sister and me as if we all still living together.
She told me she didn’t want to go home. That she hates her mum. She wants to live with me.
I’m not stupid, I know kids play one parent off against the other, I know this can appear manipulative despite them just wanting it all to be alright, but I’m struggling to know what to do about the situation. Within seconds of me taking her home yesterday (back to school this morning) they were arguing. Today, when I rang up at 5pm to find out how her first day back had been, they were in the middle of a hysterical shouting fit. K has a room of her own that her mum will ‘send her to’ when she’s naughty but when she goes in there after a minute her mum will follow her in and start telling her off a bit more. Her mum finds it impossible to let things go and she seems to forget that she’s supposed to be the adult. She will follow K around, digging and nagging. Today K tried to get out of the room and her mum forcibly stopped her so K slapped at her arm to get her off. This resulted in her mum pinning my daughter to the bed, arms back behind her head, whilst she ‘told her off’ for hitting and shouting.
Let me say at this point that our daughter couldn’t be more lovely. She’s a skinny weed, sweet, patient with others. My ex, on the other hand, is 5-10”, an overbearing bully with an alcohol problem, persistent depression and a bad back. K isn’t an angel, of course; personally I wouldn’t even want her to be. I take responsibility for her stresses and occasional obstreperousness because of the terrible relationship I had with her mum before they left. It’s not her fault she’s got confused attachments, it’s our fault, me and my ex.
I think it’s important that she has a ‘mum’ because girls and their mums have a special bond. But I’m scared they’ll end up hating each other. My eldest girl has already got to the point that she keeps her mum at an emotional distance because of the shouting and violence. She’s never even had a fight with anyone else but after being pushed around the front room by her mum she kicked her, hard, once, and moved out as fast as she could. But she was much older. I think it’s interesting how one person can create multiple situations that make people be violent. Of course I can’t excuse either of the girls, I have to talk to them about not letting the anger and frustration spiral out of control, I don’t condone the hitting and kicking. Yet, having lived with her for several years I know how they feel. Yesterday, while listening on the phone to my daughter screaming and crying in the distance, I wanted to go round and pin her to a wall with a kitchen knife, threatening her, that if I ever again hear either of my kids that upset because of her, it would be the last time. But, of course, I don’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t. The feeling makes me feel bad, as I’m sure it does with the kids. That’s sad in itself.
I need to get a grip and find some solutions.