Bill left yesterday for another business trip. This time, it’s a long haul business trip, so he’ll be very tired when he gets home next week. However, something special is planned for this trip to the United States. Bill is going to Utah from his TDY site to see his younger daughter again for the first time since Christmas 2004. The last time he saw his daughter, she was barely 11 years old. She was extremely alienated, and they were at my father-in-law’s house, the same place where Ex had presented Bill with divorce papers back in 2000.
During that Christmas visit, which I had refused to attend, Ex and her third husband were also visiting Bill’s dad and stepmother. They’d brought Bill’s ex stepson, his older daughter, younger daughter, and Ex’s kid with her current husband. I was “invited” to that fiasco too, but declined to go for many reasons. The main one was that I don’t even like spending Christmas with my own family. I don’t want to do it with my husband’s ex wife. She had told Bill that the kids didn’t like me (which I knew from firsthand experience wasn’t true). I reasoned that I deserved a peaceful holiday too, and had no desire to spend it in a hostile environment around people who resent me simply for marrying a divorced man. I didn’t think anyone but Bill really welcomed me there, and we couldn’t afford the trip, anyway. So I stayed home and looked after the dogs, and Bill went to see his kids for the last time. Until now…
For years, I was very angry with Bill’s daughters. I’m still pretty annoyed with older stepdaughter, although I have an inkling as to why she still has her head so firmly lodged up her ass. I kind of get it. She lives with her mother and is convinced she can’t make it on her own, even though she has plenty of people who have offered to help her and she’s proven that she has life skills. She’s also reportedly taking care of Ex’s last kid. It’s good of her to do that, since Ex is a shitty mother. She really is. I don’t want to get into specifics of why she’s a shitty mother in this post, but she’s done plenty to demonstrate that she’s not well and has no business raising children. Those who have followed my older blog probably remember some of the stories. I may come off as a bitter, angry second wife, but I think I have good reason to feel the way I do. I have lived with the aftermath of Bill’s first marriage for 17 years now, and it’s only been within the past several years that we’ve finally managed to unload some of the baggage that accompanied it.
Younger daughter, who was always the more vocally hateful of the two girls, came around a few years ago. She and Bill Skype and email regularly. She’s married now, has two children, and has evidently escaped the “fog” that comes from living with a narcissist. You know that term “FOG”, right? Fear– obligation– and guilt. It’s employed a lot by damaged people who want to control others. She and Bill have talked about what it was like to get out of that “foggy” environment, in which there were constant threats, ultimatums, and carrots on sticks. Both realized that they felt a whole lot better once they got away from the “FOG”. Actually– I never liked fog for another reason. It was the nickname for the God awful Muzak radio station my dad used to listen to all the time– WFOG. Just thinking about being forced to listen to his brand of easy listening Muzak is enough to make me twitch.
The funny thing about FOG is that once you’re out of it, it’s like an amazing epiphany. You realize what the problems were; you discover that escape isn’t impossible; and you want to help others to freedom. But they’re still spinning with the fear, obligation, and guilt themselves and they won’t take the life ring that is thrown out to them. So they stay mired… stuck in the quicksand, surrounded by FOG, and suffering while the escapees look on helplessly. It’s like watching someone trapped in a cult, and if you truly love and care about someone, it’s an awful thing to witness. I have often remarked to my mother-in-law that it must have been hell watching Bill struggling with his ex wife. She really did some awful things, not just to Bill, but to people who love him. And that especially includes Bill’s mother.
Bill and I both have a lot of experience dealing with people who employ FOG to get what they want. We respond differently, though, because we have different temperaments. Bill is endlessly patient, kind, and understanding. He’s an empath, and although he does have a “red line”, it takes a long time to reach it. He’s a very forgiving person. I, on the other hand, am a lot less tolerant of people who treat me badly. I get angry and “hard”. That’s not to say I don’t ever forgive. Of course I do. But it takes a lot less to really piss me off and a lot longer to get back into my good graces. Fortunately, most people don’t care about being on my good side, so I’m free to feel unabated contempt toward those who abuse me. Mostly, I just cut them out of my life as much as possible and, if I’m lucky, time erases much of the pain associated with being around them.
At this point, I think I have mostly forgiven Bill’s younger daughter. She seems to have turned out decently despite being raised by an incredibly toxic mother. I think she benefitted from knowing some good people who helped her. I am no fan of Mormonism, but in younger daughter’s case, I think being a church member was a huge blessing. And I love that Ex had used the church as a parental alienation tool that ultimately backfired. Serves her right. Younger daughter is also very strong willed and smart, and she’s definitely proven that she’s resilient.
I have high hopes for Bill’s visit with his daughter. He’ll meet his son-in-law and his two grandchildren, and hopefully it won’t take 15 years for their next visit to occur. I’m sure they’ll have a lot to talk about and clear up. Some of it will probably be painful, but I know there are some discussions they need to have. I hope they can have them and strengthen their bond. It would be nice for Bill to be able to be a dad again. I know he misses it. Maybe next time they see each other, I’ll be there, too. We’ll see…
Anyway, it’s gratifying that Bill is getting this chance. It’s a long time coming. I’m sure I’ll hear all about it when Bill comes home next week. And then, a few days later, we will have a home visit to determine our worthiness to adopt a new dog. I think 2020 is going to be a banner year for us. Incidentally, Bill asked our current landlord if he minded if we got a new dog. Landlord said, “It’s your house. Do what you want.” Our move to Wiesbaden has really turned out to be a blessing, even if I do miss some things about living in Stuttgart.