Emily Just Asked to Come Home

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.IMG_3148.png

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.

IMG_3151.pngI 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.


The Power of the Nothing

The nothing comes from a fantastic movie that I enjoyed as a child called The NeverEnding Story, I can hear the main theme in my head as I type this.  The clip below will give you the history of the nothing and how it relates to the film itself.

For me the nothing has always existed in my life.  It has taken large periods of time away from me and always seems to be hanging around when we all reach our lowest points, when we are being tested the most.  Most times I wasn’t aware that the nothing has its powerful grasp on me.

As this site continues to grow and I share more posts, I will tell you all about my eldest daughter and the struggles that I am having with her.   She recently turned 16 and told me that she was moving out of my house, despite my efforts over the past 10 weeks on trying to get us help with therapy, quitting my job so that I could spend more time at home with my four children.  Everything that I have tried seems to push her away even more, and despite my desire for only the best for her she has to want it as well.

The day she walked out the door, the nothing pounced on me and pulled me back into a state of inaction.  I had been going to the gym everyday for the past few weeks, I had been eating healthy and it would seem that I was able to shake the old life I was trying to grow out of and the nothing pulled me back down to nothing.

First to go was the gym, nothing.  No exercise, no activity for over ten days.

Next was the diet, chocolate, pizza and beer all became my friends again.  Fruit, whole grains, protein shakes, nothing.  All gone.

I had trimmed down to 175 pounds, and within ten days I was back up to over 190 because I had done nothing.

I sat on couch, watched way too much television, barely played with my other three children because I was busy feeling sorry for myself, my brain was caught in this endless cycle of trying to figure out what had happened.  I was pouring over the past few months, giving everything this girl needed, getting her all the support I could to make her feel happy and loved.  She has been struggling with depression, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, changing her social circles, starting to skip school.  I could see what a destructive path she was on, and I wanted change for her.  We also struggled with our relationship as when I was remarried ten years ago stepmom and daughter fought a lot.

The job I had was a lot of evenings and weekends, and I was there for her when she needed me the most.  I was lucky to figure all this out this past summer when we were out of that toxic relationship and on our own.  She took her freedom, and nights alone at home to heart and as mentioned started to get herself into trouble.  I feared where this was headed and wanted to get her the help she needed.

Unfortunately the nothing had her as well.  Nothing is wrong she would often tell me…


So I took action, I did something.  I changed the man that I was and am now walking a path that took my life into a completely different direction.  I could feel the stress lift off my shoulders, I was able to forgive myself for my past and the times when I did nothing.  I was becoming a better man, and a better father.  I had convinced myself that I was going to take my children and show them a better life.  One filled with the wonder of nature instead of the mesmerizing 2.5 inch screen that far too many teenagers stare at for far too long on a daily basis.

I was reaching out, I was sharing, I was starting to give back when the opportunities would arise, and I started to look for more.  The children were happier, I was engaging them more and more every day.  All except Emily, she continued to resist and walk her own path.  It made me more determined to continue what I was doing and eventually she would forgive me for the past few years, see that I had changed the man I was, and the father to them.  I showed her what this new life was going to be all about.

She didn’t care.  She didn’t care about anything… nothing if you will.

The last two weeks really messed with my head.  Doing nothing I would question and second guess myself.  Why had I done this, when the child that needed my help the most still wanted to have nothing to do with me.  Everything felt forced and awkward.  Nothing is our relationship was changing, nothing was getting fixed, nothing was getting better.

I could not break this mental cycle I was trapped in.

I am very fortunate, as this cycle has trapped me before, the last time was a nine month cycle of nothingness that was a direct result from divorce #2 and the time it took to slowly withdraw from that toxic relationship, sell the house and finally move out on my own.  That is when I last escaped from the nothing.  I got my life back, and started to live again.

Fortunate that it did not take nine months to break this cycle, only nine days.  And with the help of the support system that I have been slowly putting into place these last six months.  A family therapist, a few men’s support groups that I have joined, and just enjoying time with my other children have all helped me battle the nothing.

In the film, The NeverEnding Story the nothing is destroying Fantasia, the place where our hopes and dreams live.  As we get older we stop believing in things as we did as children, we give up on our dreams and let them slip away into nothing.  All that it takes is to believe in yourself, keep your dreams alive and keep on moving.  Literally and figuratively.

So while I may have ended up pushing Emily away further, it does not mean that I have given up on my goals and will continue to push and move things forward as best I can.  Life is never ever going to go the way that you plan, even the best laid out plans will have speed bumps and pitfalls along the way.  A big part of my journey was to learn on how to battle the nothing, and when it took hold how to shake it quickly as possible.

Last time was nine months of nothing, this time only nine days.  I would argue that is progress.  Perhaps next time it’s only nine hours of nothing.

If you do nothing guess what?  Nothing happens.  Nothing will change.