Emily turned 16 on November 15th and told me the next day that she was moving out and didn’t come home after school. She spent the next two weeks at a couple of friends houses and she had very little contact with her mother and sister, and even less with me. Just over two weeks had gone by and in that time I have done a tremendous amount of research on parenting, mental health, the effects of drugs and alcohol on the teen-aged body and a host of reading on legal issues with regards to a 16 year old leaving, rights, financial responsibilities etc…
It has been a very tough few weeks.
I could see the effects on her mother, she was crushed. I have full time custody of my girls but Mom has remained close and talks to them everyday. This experience has drawn us closer together in terms of a united parenting team even though our marriage ended many years ago. And seeing first hand the effects on her younger sister Megan as she has been struggling to understand why her sister left in the first place. Megan asked to come home from school early this past Friday as she had been sitting in the bathroom crying. Both are beautiful young ladies, raised in similar environments but have turned out completely differently.
I’ve written a few blogs posts so far about the experiences I have had over the last few years that have led me on a path of self discovery, and also recently realized that the mental seeds to this journey were planted before I even realized it. In the post, A Letter to Emily I actually foreshadowed what exactly happened a year and bit later when I stepped back from work to re-establish my relationship with her.
The other post of note, The Power of the Nothing I knew I needed to fix me and the way I reacted to and dealt with any and all issues that life would throw my way. Emily leaving derailed all the progress I’ve made at the gym in the last month, the nothing had me! It’s been an amazing journey so far, but I am just getting started as I have so much that I want to write about and share with whomever is interested.
I had hoped and prayed that Emily, when she was ready would want to come home and as hard as it was to watch her walk away, I gave her the time and the space she needed to come to that decision on her own. There were perhaps some legal way to force her home, and force her to get the help she needed, but I feared it wouldn’t last and would only cause further distance between us.
So as hard as it was, I patiently waited…
This morning I received this text message from her, and instantly started to cry. It wasn’t the first time that I cried today. That happened this morning around 6:30am when I was down in my basement hitting my heavy bag, and dancing around like no one was watching. A song came on and within seconds I started to cry…
This Song Saved My Life by Simple Plan.
I was dancing around with tears streaming down my face and in truth I’ve never felt more alive. I missed my Emily terribly but connected with the lyrics in a very powerful way. Emily was the main motivating factor for me to change my life, she doesn’t know it yet but she saved me. She really did, you only ever will have one first child and I could see my beautiful baby girl slipping away from me right before my very eyes.
The life choices that I had made, and the things (at the time) that I thought were important to me were the very thing(s) that were pushing her away. The older she got the faster the divide started to grow, and she was already gone long before I realized that she was gone. Her leaving the house forced me into old habits and inaction and I started second guessing all my reasons for wanting change. This kind of thinking in the past has led to long term disastrous result for me, and thankfully a lot of the things I have learned recently kicked in and I was able to get back on track.
No the pain of Emily never went away or lessen in intensity, but I was able to live with it.
I have so much to live for, three other amazing children who were getting the short end of the stick as their fun loving father has been emotionally crippled and they deserved so much better. Pain, emotional turmoil and other negatives emotions will always enter our lives, it is how we deal with it determines our strength of character.
I will have setbacks along the way, hopefully minor in nature but I continue to move forward to grow as a father and a man. To gain a better understanding of how to unconditionally love everyone in this world, to grow spiritually and emotionally and intellectually. To show my children to do the same.
Emily comes home tonight, I am a little nervous but I am ready to talk about her experience, and to let her know what my expectations are, I need to be to her parent and her friend.
Ready to love her unconditionally, to parent her to the best of my ability, to get her any and all the help that she wants or needs.
To rebuild our relationship and revel in the love between a father and his daughter, the road may be hard and bumpy at times but I know now that I have the strength to stay the course.