Ladies of the Round Table

March 16, 2008

Role as daughter = exempt

Filed under: Uncategorized — Michelle @ 2:58 am

This is Michelle from

At this point in my life I have no role as daughter.  My mom is deceased and my dad hasn’t been in my life for over 14 years.  A lot of what I am going to write I have never shared with anyone.  My childhood seemed fairly typical up until the age of 9 when my parents divorced.  This is when reality set in and I became aware of the dysfunction that was prominent in my family.  The main reason for the divorce was my dad’s alcoholism and as my mom said, he was extremely controlling and wouldn’t allow her to go out with her friends, later I would experience this control as it turned on me.  My brother and I stayed with my dad after the divorce.  He was the responsible one with a stable job and the mental capacity to handle 2 kids as a single parent.  After the divorce my mom felt free and became very consumed in her own needs and desires.  She moved up the street and immediately started dating a druggy who many years later, after they broke up, would commit suicide in a field in front of police in Nebraska…I always knew he had MAJOR issues but my mom was blind, in love and never saw it coming.  I remember calling him a bastard and my mom slapping me in the face (I’m still “the tell it like it is” type of person, can’t help it!)  She then started dating a Cowboy from Texas.  They became serious immediately and moved from Nebraska to Pennsylvania when I was 11 and then to New Jersey a year later.  Cowboy was a “mobile Electrician” he took good care of her, she didn’t have to work but he was, yet again, another alcoholic.   My brother and I were devastated by the move.   There is no word to describe the sadness I felt, I would cry for days and days.  I was sad but happy at the same time for her.  For the first time she seemed so happy.  I was definitely more understanding than my brother who felt she abandoned us and feels this way to this day.  She would visit us once a year, we spoke 2-3 times a week over the phone and lots of cards and letters were exchanged.  Even separated by thousands of miles, She continued to be a huge part of my life; my brother however, could never get over the fact that she left us and built barriers and never allowed her in after that.

My brother and I NEVER got along as children…hate is a strong word but I can’t think of a more appropriate word to use to describe our relationship.  We fought every given opportunity, not just sister-brother fights but down-right physical fighting and emotional abuse.  He was the all around perfect child…perfect grades, rarely went to a party, stayed home on the weekends, played every sport under the sun and had his first drink when he turned 21.  P-E-R-F-E-C-T!  We were always compared to one another. Dad couldn’t for the life of him understand why I didn’t want to play sports.  I joined the softball team and track team in middle school only to please him, but I did not enjoy it.  I’d rather be with my friends hanging out but he didn’t approve and rarely allowed it.

When I was 12 I had my very first “real” (yes, it was real!) boyfriend, Gary.  My dad was very protective of me and any boy who would come over was shown the rifle at the front entrance of our farm house and this included Gary.  I began to rebel in order to see Gary.  My friends and Gary were most important to me; they were my world and essentially my only support.   I really needed my mom at this point in my life.  I could tell her anything…ANYTHING and I wanted nothing more than to be with her but that would mean leaving my friends and Gary.  I would lie to my dad about what I was doing, who I was with, where I was, etc. in order to be with the people who were most important to me.  And on many occasions I snuck out of the house.  Looking back I understand what I did was totally wrong and unacceptable but I also feel he was keeping me on a tight rope and at times I was being suffocated.  He had all the control and I hated it and I began to hate him.

  My mom and her cowboy moved to Colorado when I was 15.  This was my opportunity to get away.  I was older and felt more confident about leaving my friends.  My dad and I, by this time, were not even on speaking terms.  I couldn’t do anything to make him proud, nothing would please him.  I couldn’t meet his expectations as the “perfect” daughter.  I left Nebraska and was on my way to freedom.  My friends and my dad saw me off and my friends tell me they saw a single tear drop from his eye.  If he was ever sorry, it was too late…I was gone.

Living with my mom was a blessing.  I was liberated and free to go out with friends, have boyfriends, attend a party and best of all she never accused me of having sex when I wasn’t or telling me “you’re going to get knocked up, get into drugs and drop out of school.”    My dad was the best at making false accusations.  My mom trusted me and knew if she gave me the opportunity I could be an honest, respectful daughter.  I loved that she trusted me and she COULD trust me.  I wasn’t about to lose her trust because I was free.  To this day, moving was the moment that changed my life forever.  I’m frightened to think what would have happened had I stayed with my dad. 

One year after I moved to Colorado I met Lanny, my now husband, when I was 17.  We married when I was 22, 3 months after the diagnoses of my mom’s lung cancer and 1 year after the cowboy left her for another woman.  I became the mother and my mom was the child.  I didn’t mind this at all.  I loved my mom more than life…she saved me from the pain I was going through with my dad.  I was more than willing to take the role of mother and help her in any way possible to fight the cancer.  She fought the cancer for as long as she could but it caught up to her and she died when I was 24. She didn’t have the opportunity to meet Angelica or even see a picture but she was with me through infertility and the beginning stages of Angelica’s adoption.  Almost one year from the day she died I was living in Guatemala taking care of Angelica.  I miss her more than anything and I know she wasn’t perfect BUT she loved me and most importantly I felt loved. 

I’ve lived in Colorado for 14 years now and have only seen my dad on 3 occasions and maybe spoke to him 5 times on the phone since the move.  Saddest of all I have not heard from him once since the adoption of Angelica.  NOTHING!  My brother and I did reconcile our differences 1 year ago and have since spoken frequently and I have visited him 2 times in Nebraska.  My brother is now a very important part of my life as well as his wife and my nephew; they mean the world to me.  I’ve also seen my grandparent’s (dad’s folks) 2 times in the past year.  My dad is remarried, quit drinking and has 2 step-daughters.  He has his new life with his new wife and perfect daughters and it doesn’t include me.   I suppose I am a wee bit resentful of my step-sisters because he adores them.  I wish he looked at me the way he looks at them.  I’m not at a place in my life where I can forgive him yet and I honestly do not know if I can ever forgive him.  More than anything I am hurt…so damn hurt because he has a granddaughter, who he does not accept.  Hurt because he has not once called to ask about her.  Last year I mailed him pictures and a brief note stating that if he wants to talk to please call me…still nothing.  I don’t understand.  All I can do is learn from it.  I know in my heart I WILL NEVER do what he has done to me to Angelica, NEVER!  I will also NEVER leave Angelica like my mother did, NEVER! 

It has not been easy without my mom in my life.  Holidays are difficult for me.  I truly dread Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas.  I wish I had a big, supportive, loving extended family to spend holidays with but I don’t.   Thankfully I have Angelica and Lanny and it makes these times easier but it’s not the same only having 3 of us, when there should be 20 or more family celebrating together.   It’s not easy and can be depressing at times.

So, my role as daughter hasn’t been glamorous, sweet and full of happy memories.  My happiest of memories are from when my parents were together and after I moved to Colorado to be with my mom.  Those moments were all with my mom.  She was great, with many flaws but great. 



  1. Thank you. For telling me(because of course you were talking right to me) that I’m not a horrible person for not being able to forgive my father for all the pain he has caused me. While in my head I know that, it’s another thing altogether to hear someone else voice all the things I am feeling.

    Comment by Reen — March 16, 2008 @ 4:45 am | Reply

  2. Wow Michelle, I can’t believe how much you’ve lived through at such a young age. I cannot imagine losing a parent so prematurely, especially since it sounds like you missed out on so many years with your mom that you were catching up on from 15-24 years old.
    I definitely understand your anger towards your father. Especially since you gave him an opportunity to step up and “reclaim” a relationship with you and his granddaughter, and for now he has passed. I am curious what your brother’s relationship currently is with your father, and if your brother recognizes all of your pain and anger as legitimate. I know his experience with your dad was different, but is he able to see yours for what it truly was?
    Anyway, thank you for sharing such a personal post. I’ve always seen your devotion to Angelica as something to truly admire. Your love and commitment to her is VERY easy to see, as all your life’s decisions revolve around her as the center-point. From adoption decisions to learning Spanish and inviting an exchange student into your home…you always act with her at the forefront of your mind, and that is awesome.

    Comment by Laurie — March 16, 2008 @ 6:36 am | Reply

  3. My dad is very much in my brother’s life. My brother, unfortunately, is in the middle of our conflict. He recognizes my pain as legit but doesn’t understand why I will not be the bigger person and apologize to my dad…apologize for WHAT, I honestly do not know. Brother just wants the situation to end, understandably, but he doesn’t truly GET IT. He thinks we can be a big happy family if I would just call my dad. Brother experienced pain, loss and abandonment (when my dad remarried and had HIS new family didn’t include my brother fully,) just as I did but he was able to forgive whereas I cannot yet. Dad told my brother the biggest mistake in his life was not having a relationship with me…hmmm, I find this very difficult to believe when I have stepped up to the plate and asked him for a phone call if he wanted contact. My dad doesn’t have it in him to say he is sorry, he cannot stoop to that level so my brother thinks I should be the one. It’s not happening anytime soon.

    Comment by tootsi20023 — March 16, 2008 @ 5:51 pm | Reply

  4. First, thank you for telling your story. I have been floored by how open you ladies have been. It has been both eye-opening and humbling for me.

    It’s just heartbreaking that you lost your mom so young and as you were building your new life with her.

    I second what Laurie has already said about your love and devotion for Angelica. It is wonderful to see, especially after all you have been through. You are giving her so much. It’s a beautiful thing.

    Comment by craftymommy — March 17, 2008 @ 8:58 pm | Reply

  5. I have read this a few times – trying to decide the right thing to say and tonight I am not sure there is a right thing to say. I LOVE what Laurie said and will third it. I cannot imagine being as strong as you have been when you have been through what you have and from what I can tell from your blog you are an amazing mom! I would not worry about your father – if he does not come around he is the one losing out, but I know that is so much easier said than done. Thank you very much for sharing!

    Comment by carissah — March 18, 2008 @ 2:50 am | Reply

  6. Wow. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. You have experienced a lot of loss in regards to your parents. I can’t imagine how difficult it was to lose your mom after missing out on so much. I’m very sorry about your father. Sometimes people do things (or don’t do things) that just don’t make sense. It’s great that you and your brother have developed your relationship as adults. What a blessing to have his family in your life. Thank you again for sharing.

    Comment by Laura — March 18, 2008 @ 2:57 am | Reply

  7. Thank you for sharing with us. I am so sorry for all of the pain you have had in your life. Like the others who have shared really difficult stories, my heart just breaks for you all. I read your blog and like the others, can feel your strong love for Angelica. You are doing such a great job with her.

    Comment by Kelly — March 18, 2008 @ 3:05 am | Reply

  8. I’m so sorry that you lost your Mom when you had only just found her. But I’m so glad you found her at all and that it made such a profoundly positive impact on your life and future. And you give me hope wrt your relationship with your borhter. Mine is and always has been a rocky one as well and I’m still waiting for mine to grow up so maybe we can connect in some way. Thank you for sharing.

    Comment by Nicki — March 19, 2008 @ 12:35 am | Reply

  9. I’m so touched by your post in so many ways. What a sad path you’ve walked and yet what an amazing woman and mother you’ve become through it. I’m so glad you were able to reform that relationship with your mother in the years before you lost her. I lost my dad to lung cancer six years ago next month, so what you went through in that regard really resonates with me (and I dread the holidays too). As for your father – I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t be able to forgive him either after all of that. You’ve done what you could by reaching out to him, if he still couldn’t step up with that then I’m not sure what else he could possibly ask you to do. I second (or third or fourth) what others have said – you can easily see on your blog that you have taken the challenges you faced growing up and used them to become an extremely dedicated and loving mom to your daughter.

    Comment by Stacy — March 19, 2008 @ 4:30 am | Reply

  10. Michelle-
    I relate to your story so much. What really gave me hope was your reconcilliation with your brother. My brother stopped talking to me and my father after our whole blow up, and I miss him.

    Comment by sheljena — March 19, 2008 @ 7:26 pm | Reply

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