My Daughter Hates Me: Some wrongs can never be fully righted (Part 11 of 13)


For a long time my choices tied my life into a seemingly inescapable Gordian Knot: a knot inadvertently binding those I love (and hated) to a life of chaos and confusion. I tried everything I could think of to untie the knot. Often my best thinking made it worse. “The significant problems we face cannot be solved,” said Albert Einstein, “at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” 

I needed a new solution on a different level. Most of my life I made choices based on my “rights” and the “easiest” way to gain them. As my divorce from Rachel progressed I began to see that if I focused on giving the “best” instead of taking what was my “right” life might change for the better. It would change because I’d be making choices at a different level. My amends are an attempt to give compensation for my wrongs. It is the process of thinking – and acting – on life based on a new foundation. On a different level. It has unraveled the knot binding me.

The Gordian Knot is a story from antiquity. When Alexander the Great arrived in the city of Gordium he learned of a prophecy pertaining to a great knot. Whoever could untie the knot would conquer all of Asia. Of course, the knot seemed hopelessly tangled and he could find no ends to begin untying it. So the future conqueror of Asia took his sword and sliced the knot in two. He found a solution by thinking at a level different from everyone else. My amends are an attempt to cut through the knot in my life. As I said earlier, my change in behavior is an attempt at making the amends that can be made.

I know there are some wrongs that can never be fully righted but I want to do as much as I can.

First, there is the man who is on the verge of repeating my mistakes. I hope he will learn from my experiences and stop to reconsider his choices before they adversely affect his life and the lives of the people around him. He will seek what is “best” instead of what is “easiest”. Embrace his “responsibilities” as opposed to engaging his “rights”. If you are unsure what that means, write to me and we will talk.

Then of course, there is the man who is sitting on the edge of the bed thinking about pulling the trigger. Everyone has a life worth living. You just have to find it. For me it had to begin by seeking the “best” solution instead of choosing the “easiest” and for a time suicide seemed the “easiest”. It had to begin by being honest about the past, coupled to a willingness to start living for the future. I want the man on the bed to know that no matter how bad the situation it can be turned around. There is always hope. Please, write to me and we will talk. Your life matters.

Most importantly it is an attempt to mend my relationship with both Betty (my daughter’s mother) and our daughter, Cassandra. These are the hardest amends. Of all the harms I committed, the one I would most like to untangle is giving Betty someone to hate – someone to resent and fear. I know I made some poor choices. I know I was wrong. I know it is easier for her to blame and hate than take responsibility for her part in our melodrama. But I also know from personal experience, that resentment, bitterness and suspicion contribute to a soul sickness as destructive as cancer or alcoholism. When, and if, you want to talk, I am here.

I deeply wish Betty could find some peace about our entangled past. By taking responsibility for my choices, paying my past due support, trying to help other men not repeat my mistakes, and by not hating her back, I am trying to do what I can to free her from the pain of the being bound by the part of the knot I tied.

Unfortunately, making amends to my daughter is a bit more complicated. I have seen my daughter only once since she was six. It was in the lobby of the courthouse.

In July of 1999, when she turned ten, I allowed her to be adopted by her stepfather. As I left the court room Betty stepped between me an the door, joyously threw her arms out and in tears, thanked me for letting her husband adopt our daughter. It is the closest I have ever come to killing another human being. When she finally pulled back to make eye contact, I think she knew. I said something profound like, “Get the fuck away from me.” I’m sure she thought I was being disrespectful…in reality I was trying to save her life.

I intentionally went to the bathroom to gather my wits and pray. I did not want to ride down in the elevator with her and her husband. After some time passed I went to the lobby of the court house. As I went through the lobby Betty, Betty’s parents, Betty’s husband and our daughter, Cassie, stood in the hectic lobby of the County Courthouse. They were gathering to celebrate.

I saw my daughter; they saw me. As I approached, grandma wrapped her pressed her hands down on Cassie’s shoulders and pulled her against her. That one act validated what I’d known she was being taught. There are no written words to elegantly – or appropriately – describe what I witnessed. The body language was as readable as a pop-up picture book.

I looked my daughter in the eyes for what I knew was the last time and without a word to any of them and chose to keep walking. I didn’t want her to be subjected to more insanity.

Walking past is my only regret because I have no reason to believe I will see her again.

I know adoption isn’t the “right” way for everyone. It isn’t even the “right” way for me. Rather it is the “best” for our daughter. At least it is the “best” as I saw it in July 1999. I couldn’t bring myself to drag her into court in order to assert my “right” as a father. I couldn’t continue to fight a war where the main casualty was going to be a little girl.

As her father it is my job to protect her, not hers to protect me. I’m the adult…

13 Comments

  1. Such powerful writing. I’m so sorry, for everyone here. I feel bad for you and your ex and Cassie. I wasn’t there, but it seems like you made the right choice at the time. Maybe I am wrong. But it feels like you knew that your sacrifice would save her pain, and that is an incredibly hard thing to do. She WILL want a connection with you. At some point she will want that, and I’m glad you are writing about it, documenting this struggle, because I think it helps other and I think it will help her one day too. Hugs.

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    1. Hi Tara,
      Thanks. Sometimes – especially when I see others with their children – I think “what if”. I’ve missed all the first days of school, teaching her to drive, the first date, the arguments over the length of skirts, teaching her to snow ski. I’ve always been aware of what I sacrificed…it’s the things I missed that I don’t know about – and never will – that make me cry.
      Thanks for the words.
      Sean

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  2. Sean this bought me to tears very moving to read, it appears that in all the madness you made a decision that was right for your daughter and not for yourself, very unselfish and a very hard decision to make. I believe when Cassie is old enough to know her own decisions she will make contact and find you. I take my hat off to you for documenting how you feel it will also help you answer all those questions that Cassie will have when she does find you. Hugs & Love Janne

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  3. I had a father who stayed
    and many days I prayed he;’d die
    I was 10 I hated him
    and nights when he’d pass out from drinking
    I’d be happy because at least he’d shut the hell up
    then something happend..
    I ran away at 16 and for 3 weeks
    that mad sat on the couch and cried
    could not drink, barely ate
    and when I returned we talked
    and for the next 32 years he was
    a great friend, I saw him as a man
    I saw the struggles that he had,
    I saw his vulnerablitlies and the changed me
    We can not change anyone
    but we can change how we react
    Do you write letters to her?
    even if you can not bring yourself to send them?

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  4. You feel exactly the same as other parents do who have put their child up for adoption……except that you had the chance to know and love your child before terminating your parental rights. In that way, your sacrifice was ultimately more painful.

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  5. You’re an amazing writer Sean, and so courageous sharing your story!
    What makes me sad is that your ex chose to refuse your daughter her right to have her own father in her life and gave her a new dad instead. I shouldn’t judge really, I’m sure whatever decisions that were made back then were the right ones for all parties involved at the time, but it still makes me sad.
    Having gone through a bitter divorce battle for 7 years myself, fighting over custody issues mainly, I can relate to a lot of the things you’ve shared. My ex was so bitter and vendictive, often times I wished there was a way to keep my daughter away from him, because I was afraid his violent state and his influence on her was so toxic, he could scar her for life. But never once did I think to cut them off from each other completely or say bad things about him in her presence. I thought no matter how bad he was he’s still her father and she loved her dad.
    A couple of years after the dicorce, he finally managed to settle his anger and now we’re all starting to be friends again.
    I really hope you will get to see your daughter and become part of her life again, it would be so wrong if you couldn’t.
    Big hug!
    Najia

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  6. Your story is so like my brother’s. He has not seen or heard from his 1st son since he was very young. I’m afraid to even mention his son to him. When he later remarried and had another son, he gave that boy all the attention he needed and more, perhaps trying to make up for his past.

    I think the important takeaway is that no, you can’t go back and change what happened. But experiences do strengthen us in some way. Stay positive! There are so many things good in life to enjoy.

    And your daughter? Hopefully, she will read your candid, heartfelt blog and understand. But keep moving forward with your life in the meantime.

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  7. Sean, as I mentioned to you.. you sound more distant, removed, remote here than you have in prior installments. You confirmed you are feeling “remoteness”. A part of you is not being embraced and honored, you are “stuffing” and thinking you are healing. It’s time to release this energy, not stuff it and hold it any longer. You know the energy I refer to, because you feel it. It’s in there, in that tight, contracted feeling inside.

    The story is poignant, but since this is a story now about healing – I will offer this. You can never change anything for another, you can never cause another to forgive or move beyond. These choices belong to Betty and Cassandra. What you can do is allow the healing to find ground within you. The outer world reflects the inner world and as you heal and find peace within letting go of ANY attachment to outcome (not just in words, but in your heart and soul) you will create the opening to enter into a profound peace. Not the concept of peace but a peace that surpasses all intellectual understanding.

    As you enter into this peace your outer world will reflect that peace too and the possibility for Betty to show up experiencing beauteous inner peace now exists.

    As you forgive yourself (which you have not yet done.. it is there underneath every line.. the unwritten words) and fully step into the space of Loving yourself unconditionally and know that you ARE that unconditional Love you will find the outer world will reflect back to you unconditional love in new ways. You will create the possibility for Cassandra to feel this unconditional love in her heart and move past anything that she has “heard” about you and into the space of forgiveness, acceptance and unconditional love.

    It ALL begins within you and ends within you. Remove the focus from them (out there) and let go of the attachment to their being anything other than what they are or feeling anything other than what they feel.

    Miracles happen when you allow the Love Source within you to shine forth and radiate outward. The impossible becomes possible.

    Love and Possibility,

    Amy

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  8. hmmmm I knew that there was some connection between us just didn’t know how deep. Your real life story feels like the lump I carry in the pit of my stomach everyday for 18 years now.

    I agree with Amy in the above response, that you can not waste your time hoping that someone else will do … anything… like forgive.

    We all do the best we can in the moments of our life and if we all did everything perfectly or ‘right’ we would go through life without any learning lessons or hope for others who cross our path.

    I have used my deep hurt and turned it into my passion. My passion is to help others in the midst of turmoil to find their way with a clear conscience, be proud of their decisions, stand up for themselves, honour their values and to count themselves in any and every equation. So that in the pit of their gut they know they tried and did their very best.

    Find your Joy my dear man.

    Love and Joy,
    Michelle 🙂

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  9. I have been in a very similar situation as you. I have been lucky enough for my daughter to come reaching out to me. She looked me up last year and she is now 19. I hope you are reading these blogs. I would really like to talk to you.

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  10. Wow… what an encouraging comment from Jeff H. Sean I hope you connect with him!

    I strongly feel (intuition, clairvoyance) that this will be the case for you too. You may have few years wait but NOW is the time to start imagining and visualizing this reunion.

    With love…

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  11. my doughter hate me very bad she thinks she didnot get eqal attention with her older sistor but i love them the same but thier personalty is difrent the oldest she work me hard but the youngest she is allways perfect and responsible so i run a lote behind my oldest doughter for this resison she thinks i donot care about her when is she going to understand this now they are 22 and 21 i am allways in pain for the last 7 years is their any help?

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