I have never been able to write this part of my story before, because losing my children was, by far, the worst experience of my life.
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My daughter does not know where her severely disabled and utterly dependent teenage son is right now. She has not seem him in, I believe, at least a month.
The back story is long and complicated. To put it in a nutshell, this is about a bitter, angry, controlling, and utterly self-centered man — my daughter’s former husband — who has done everything in his power to make my daughter’s life a living hell for the past twelve years, as punishment for her having the audacity to leave him. (I’ve written more about that HERE.)
Although I am, of course, prejudiced on her behalf, my daughter is truly an awesome, super loving, super caring, very smart and super giving mom. I have often been amazed by her fantastic mothering skills. She far surpasses my mothering abilities and those of any other mother I have ever known.
So this truly isn’t about a concerned father trying to protect his child from an abusive or neglectful mom. This is malignant narcissistic behavior. This is about lying, projecting, scapegoating, and gaslighting. This is about a miserable man trying to destroy the woman who got away because, in his warped view, she had no right and no valid reason to leave him.
Sadly, without good, healing intervention, a dysfunctional childhood sets the foundation for equally dysfunctional adult relationships. The similarities between my daughter’s former husband and my daughter’s father are uncanny. My ex son-in-law even works in the same trade that my daughter’s father did.
In March of 1977, when my daughter was two years old, her dad, whom I was married to but separated from at the time, took her and my five-year-old son for a visit while I was sick with pneumonia. He told me he was taking them to Arizona to see his elderly father and that he would bring them back within two weeks. But he took my children out of the country instead, after telling them that I was dead. I did not get my children back until November 18, 1979.
Several months prior to absconding with my children, in an amphetamine fueled rage, my then-husband had tried with all his considerable strength to break my neck with his bare hands. He probably would have succeeded, if someone hadn’t walked in and caught him in the act at the last moment.
I had come home thirty minutes later than expected from my real estate job that day, and in his paranoid projection of what I later learned was his cheating habits — he was the one screwing around on me — my husband physically attacked me, swearing that I was late because I was seeing another man.
It was not true, I had never cheated on him… not yet, that is. But a few months after he almost broke my neck, I did have a brief affair with someone who told me, in an unguarded moment, that he admired me more than anyone else he had ever known. As starved for love as I was, I thought I was justified in having that affair…. but I was dead wrong. Sin is always sin, regardless of what anyone else is doing.
The injury my ex-husband caused when he physically attacked me left me with all but the top two discs in my neck severely herniated. Today, forty years later, I still have crippling nerve pain in my neck every day. As I’m writing this, I am experiencing stabbing pains in my neck. It never completely goes away. That’s how badly my former husband hurt me. So — whether anyone believes me or not — I know that my ex did not take my children out of love and concern for their well-being. He never cared about them. It was all about hurting me.
In fact, prior to taking the children, he had told me many times that I was the best mother he had ever seen. And after I got my children back almost three years later, he flat-out told me: “I was planning to kill you for cheating on me. But then I realized that taking the kids would hurt you far worse than killing you.”
WHY, you may wonder, didn’t I have him arrested for hurting me so badly? That’s exactly what I would do today! But forty years ago, when I was twenty-three, I had ZERO self-esteem, thanks to my extremely traumatic childhood. Also, the attitude of the police toward battered women was very different in those days.
During my unbearable grief when my children were missing, a few people further demolished my self-esteem by telling me that, in their opinion, no man would saddle himself with two small children unless he really loved them and needed to protect them from a horribly unfit mother.
This is what I was told, in so many words, when I went to the police, to the district attorney, and to the FBI to report my children missing. I was told that it was a domestic matter, not a law enforcement matter. I was told that my husband had the same rights to my children as I had. I was told this, despite the fact that my son was from my first abusive marriage and my second husband was only his stepfather!
Upon hearing that I had been married and divorced once before, one police officer promptly ended our interview with the opinion that my second husband must be a very loving father and stepfather with a damn good reason for taking away my children, especially considering that one of them wasn’t even his!
Today there are people who do not know my daughter, who have surmised the same thing about her situation. “What a wonderful father he must be! Most men would run in the opposite direction from a child with such severe handicaps!”
What these people fail to understand is the insane intensity of a scorned malignant narcissist’s HATRED, and the great lengths to which he or she will go to retaliate against the person who has dared to leave them.
Also, these “wonderful fathers” who steal children away from their loving mothers do very little hands-on childcare. My daughter’s father left her and my son in the dubious “care” of the hard-drinking wife he had bigamously married in another country, while he was still legally married to me. Her idea of “care,” according to what my children later told me, was to send them outside to play all day, every day, in every kind of inclement weather, locking the doors behind them.
Meanwhile, my estranged husband was traveling all over the world working on oil rigs in such far-flung places as the arctic circle and Saudi Arabia, making buckets of money — money that came in very handy for keeping my children hidden far out of my reach. He rarely saw the children during those two years and seven and one-half months that he kept them away from me!
My daughter’s toxic ex-husband is in a similar situation. But instead of a bigamous wife, he has his mommy dearest, from whom he apparently inherited his narcissistic personality, and plenty of minimum wage babysitters to do the hard, hands on work when my disabled grandson is in his “care.”
With the exception of those few mothers who are so severely personality disordered that they do not even know how to love their own flesh and blood children — is there any love as deep as a mother’s love for her precious child, or any pain as devastating as a mother losing her beloved son or daughter?
Now that my daughter is going through this horror that only a loving mother can fully understand, my heart is breaking for her, my heart is breaking for my grandson, my heart is breaking for my 23-year-old granddaughter, who has always been caught in the middle — and my heart is breaking all over again as I remember what it was like when I did not know where my children were, how they were, or if I would ever see them again.
The agony I experienced from early March of 1977 until November 18, 1979, was truly unbearable. The pain almost drove me to suicide. The pain did drive me to my knees and back to the Lord Jesus, where I learned that the greatest peace and joy could somehow coexist with the worst turmoil and sorrow. (And so it was, until I temporarily lost my faith again, for the second time, several years later, due to religious abuse. But that is a whole other story.)
Some Christians think it shows a lack of faith to weep and grieve. But Jesus wept with the mourners at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11:35). On the night before His crucifixion, His anguish was so great that his sweat fell like drops of blood (Luke 22:44). And contrary to the notion that grieving reveals a lack of faith, the Bible tells us to weep with those who mourn (Romans 12:15).
Today I am grieving along with my wonderful daughter, just two weeks after hiking and laughing with her during our “Best Visit Ever” in the lava field badlands of New Mexico.
I am grateful for the continued prayers of those who care. Please pray for the safe return to my daughter’s arms of my precious grandson. Please pray, most of all, for God’s perfect will to be done.
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