FOR BACKGROUND PLEASE READ "WHEN THE DOOR CLOSES FOR THE LAST TIME"
My daughter Elle is now a Senior in High School - busy filling out College applications - dreaming about the next phase of her life. Last week Elle's high school emailed a picture of Elle in her graduation gown. Turns out the school emailed the picture to my Ex - Elle's Father. It prompted Dick to leave me a very long winded message. In a nutshell he said;
- "WE did a good job of raising her - even though he hasn't seen her or talked for over two years
- He believes that Elle hasn't been involved in his life for two years because of what went on between Elle and Malus. Elle just used him as a gateway to get out of his home - that's ok though that's what he's there for
- He just doesn't have a clue of what went on between those two (Elle and Malus)
- He and Malus will be divorced in couple weeks after 16 years of marriage - "Thank God!"
- So now that the problem (Malus) is gone he wants to be apart of Elle's life now that's she's graduating and selecting Colleges.......
- If Elle's mad at him besides the misdirected anger from Malus - He really needs me to explain why she's angry at him for some reason he doesn't understand
- Can I help calling him and setting up a phone call and ultimately a meeting with Elle.
I was stewing and then something on the radio caught my attention. "Don't listen with memory of desire.' What? "Don't listen with memory or desire." When you listen with memory you bring the past into what someone is saying - when you listen with desire you bring your wants into what you want them to say. It was Mark Goulston M.D. talking about his new book "Just Listen" with Dr. OZ. A message was delivered when I least expected it and needed it most!
I listened to Dick's message again - this time without memory or desire. I can't change what he did or didn't do in the past for Elle. It's wasted energy. I can't make him be the Dad that Elle deserves now - needs now. I don't know if he will ever be that person. So calling him back and beating my head against the wall makes no sense. I can't help someone who isn't willing to accept that there is a problem.
Ultimately, Dick having a relationship with Elle is up to Elle not me. She'll be eighteen in four short months -he's her father - she's the one that lived through her ordeal - it's up to her what she needs from him to have a relationship. So without commentary or emotion, I said to Elle Friday night - your Dad left a message on my phone. It's up to you if you want to listen to the message.
Elle thought about it for maybe 10 seconds - I think she was hopping it was the call she had been waiting to get for the past two and half years. As she played the message she stopped at various points - did he really just say that?
When she hung up she looked at me and said "Mom I don't value his opinion - so why would I want him involved in the things I'm doing now? Dick knows at the very least he has a drinking problem - maybe he blacked out and doesn't remember things - maybe it's just an excuse - I don't know. What I do know is that Malus didn't put that bottle in his hand - I didn't put that bottle in his hand - HE DID!" Until he takes responsibility for his drinking problem - I'll pass on talking to him."
I realized in that moment that she was at peace with Dick's choices, although she wished they were different ones she no longer blamed herself for his choices. She had learned what adults take years to learn - to accept the things we cannot change - frees us from the anger. In that moment I knew my baby was all grown up!