privacyDecember 6, 2016
I’ve always made a big deal about how we’re a family that doesn’t keep secrets. There are things we keep private (I’ve taught one daughter who’s sensitive about her incarcerated dad to say, “Oh, he lives in [this part of this state]” and not specify that he’s in prison there, for example.) and we talk a lot about people’s stories being their own. There was no way for me to write here without sharing some of the stories that weren’t fully mine, and I made various tradeoffs along the way to make that happen. I don’t know if I was right or wrong about that, but it’s one of the major reasons I took the blog private. The girls aren’t reading blogs themselves, but they’re at an age where they’ll be ready soon to write their own lives, which will involve me (OMG SHE JUST DOESN’T UNDERSTAND, I assume) but the power dynamic is different. They and my relationships with them as they grow still form the core of my day-to-day story, but how I share it seems harder to gauge. Facebook is explicitly about making sure their relatives and my relatives and Lee can see what they’re up to, so presenting life mostly in a neutral or positive though still politicized way. But I try to make it clear that there’s editing, that these are glimpses, and it seems to work well for finding ways to crystalize what’s going on a bit.
A year ago, though, something bad happened and Lee asked the girls to keep it a secret from me and from everyone, and that’s had negative reverberations ever since. And it’s not my story to tell awful stories about my ex (though grab coffee with me sometime and we could!) but rather to point out that a mistake in judgment snowballed. The girls started getting more anxious, acting up in school, asking authority figures cryptic questions. Finally the truth came out and they all confirmed it and I had to deal with the fallout, which would have been easier to do if we’d been working with that from the start. Other people are involved helping Lee and me sort out what her best role can be and how the girls can address it and get past it, which they mostly have, but it’s incredibly meaningful to me that the girls’ story was believed and it’s incredibly troubling that Lee still denies it. But having to craft and live my own narrative for almost a year through the strictures of what evaluating outsiders were likely to think about what I was doing and what has been going on was exhausting. I’m sure it’s been tough for the children too. I know it’s been tough because we talk about it a lot, but I don’t know whether to say just that or more or less or allude or elide. THAT is tough!
So part of me doesn’t know what to say here. Is it too much to share that the updates they’ve done for psych ER visits are really impressive? (And would it be a plus or a minus to look for the evaluating therapist who was so impressed with my parenting on the dating apps?) And I worry how I’m going to explain to Lee what happens on a trip like that so she doesn’t feel defensive (copying our coparenting therapist, as always) and so it’s not necessarily clear how much of a role her actions played in triggering the situation. It’s tough and it’s uncomfortable, and it’s tough to still be linked to someone I really don’t want to have to deal with. I spend time with the girls’ families, with relatives I know have hurt them at various times, and I know how I’ve made peace with that. But there’s something sadder and more immediate about an adoption that ended up with them living with a single parent, with yet another parent who loves them but isn’t able to care for them day-to-day. I knew at least some of that was a likely outcome well before it worked out that way and I do think it’s been better for the girls on the whole, but I know I’ve made their lives harder.
So I don’t really know where I’m going with this. Just that I want to be honest about my stuff, my worries, my role. But I also can’t do that without making some of those connections to other people. I’d rather do it without getting too far into things that are private, but just know that none of this is secret anymore. There’s just more beneath the surface than you see.