My daughter, Mary, is thirteen-years-old. In February of last year (2007) we had a tiff, and she told me that she wanted to live with her father and his young wife. I thought that this would be temporary, that she would see how silly she was behaving, and come home after a couple of weeks. A year on, things have gotten worse.
Now, as to why I feel so betrayed; Mary's father and I were childhood sweethearts. We went our own way between the ages of 18-23, then rekindled our relationship. By this time, I had a daughter, Clarissa, who was severely disabled. This didn't seem to matter at all and Mary's father (let's call him Mark) and I went on to have a child together, a boy, who unfortunately died aged five-months from cardiomyopathy. This was a terrible time for both Mark and I, but a year later we had Mary. Clarissa was well most of the time, Mary was healthy - but took a lot of looking after - and things ran smoothly for a few years. We were happy.
Then Mark decided to go to university. This I agreed to. Then everything changed. He'd stay out all night, spend all of our money on partying, receive text messages from women, abandon me at the drop of a hat if one of his uni pals called him up, refused to help me with the children, (hardly ever taking Mary out during weekends, instead leaving her with me and Clarissa - who required constant care) and would constantly "go on" about the girls he had befriended. When i'd confront him about his behaviour, he would become very abusive, hitting me on a few occasions. The final straw came when I discovered he'd been sleeping with one of his fellow students, I also found that he'd been taking Mary to the student property and leaving her with his girlfriends fellow housemates. (All of this was vehemently denied, and I was called "crazy" and "hysterical" - which at times I thought I was, because of his constant lies and deception.) I knew he was 'carrying on' with a girl from university, but I couldn't prove it. I decided to leave him.
I got my life back on track. Without Mark's abuse my depression lifted and I began to enjoy life with my girls (even though it was draining physically looking after a disabled child and an energetic eight-year-old).
After around eight months of having no contact with me or the girls, Mark asked if he could take Mary out over the weekends. She desperately wanted to see her father, so I agreed. At first she would spend the day with him, visiting museums etc, then, during weekends, she began to stay overnight.
I began seeing a man I had been friends with for years, and three years after Mark and I split up, I discovered I was pregnant. I told Mary the good news, but she appeared shocked and disgusted. She then dropped a bombshell, during her weekends away from me, she had been staying with her father and his girlfriend, along with their baby aged ten months! I couldn't believe that she had kept this secret from me and I was really cross with her, I was also worried as to how she could lead a double life a such a young age. She told me her father had met Samantha at work, a year after finishing uni.
In the end I figured that her father had told her not to let me know, and decided to let it go. I had my own life to live, I put the past behind me.
My baby was born some months later, he was healthy and I was over the moon. Things went swimmingly for the next two years. That is until Mary had a tiff with me over nothing much at all. She went to stay with her father in February of last year. Like I said, I thought she would come back after a couple of months, but she didn't.
Then, in April, I found Clarissa dead in bed (she had suffered a massive epileptic seizure) I was heartbroken. I invited Mark to the funeral for Mary's sake. He asked me if it would be OK to bring his wife, Samantha. Not wanting to cause a scene, I said "yes". Though I couldn't understand why she would want to come.
A month or so after the funeral, Mary still hadn't come home. I was very lonely without her - the house felt empty and sad with both of my girls away - I asked her father if he would coax her to come home. I foolishly thought he would see how terribly down I was, and how I needed some semblance of my old routine. He was incredibly nasty towards me, telling me that it was "up to Mary to decide where she wants to be" I was very hurt.
The kicker comes now; my sister thought it would be a good idea for me to get in touch with my old friends via facebook. I opened an account there and got back in touch with people I hadn't seen for twenty years. I then noticed that Mary had a facebook account, and sent a request.
When I looked at her profile, I couldn't believe my eyes. Samantha had been one of the girls Mark was at university with, Mary was also on very friendly terms with Samantha's circle of friends - girls I had confronted with regards to Mark's infidelities.
I feel as though i've had everything taken from me. That, not satisfied with stealing my husband, Samantha has took it up a notch and stolen my daughter too! I don't know what is wrong with Mary. I have done all I can for her, but it seems that she chooses her stepmom over me.
Sally, I'm sorry you've suffered so much loss. But I don't think your daughter has betrayed you - she's just trying her best to create peace and stability in her life.
She's lost a lot too - she lost her big sister, and been through a break up of a home, and I'm sure is feeling a lot of pull from both you and your ex-husband. and now you're angry at her for not telling her father's secrets and for not living with you.
She's only 13. She hasn't caused any of the awful chaos in her life, she's just been a victim of all of it, and now it sounds like she's trying to have a home that's peaceful so she can put down roots and grow. If you are angry and feel betrayed, it's because of your ex-husband, and the sadness of losing your first and second children, and I think you're kind of misplacing that sadness on your daughter and blaming a child when betrayal is the last thing she intended.
Is she doing well in school and with friends?
Maybe for the time being you can focus on your son and your boyfriend, and allow her the freedom to choose which parent to live with?
As RockRose said, your daughter has done nothing wrong. She's your ex-husband's daughter too, so I don't see where your getting the idea that Samantha somehow "stole" her from you.
I understand that you're hurt, but this is in no way Mary's fault. She's been through almost as rough a time as you have, maybe more so because things affect children more intensely, and she should be wherever she's happiest.
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