Last November I started a blog called, Laughing Always Helps. Well, actually, I started the blog in April but had only posted once and the post was about our new puppy, Benny. I had some pretty strong convictions against blogging so I've been conflicted inwardly about my being a blogger. However, by November of last year I was pretty lonely. I had homeschooled the previous 9 years and was home alone while all of the kids were in school. When we moved to Colorado almost 6 years ago, we had been a part of a very small church and chose a very large church thinking that it would be better for the kids but... it was hard for us to connect with others. However, I found a great homeschool support group that I jumped into with both feet. It was through the support group that I made my friends and my kids made theirs. Between the problems with my voice and stepping out of the homeschool world I became isolated pretty quickly. A hard thing when you are more social in nature.
I changed the look of that blog and deleted the first post. I think only two people looked at it between April and November and they were my friends. My first post was about a pair of low rise black pants that I bought because they looked good on and happened to be long enough. An unusual find off the rack when you are nearly 6 ft. tall. The low rise part gave me a lot of trouble though and I chronicled my day wearing them while helping out in the office of the girls' school. Believe it or not, I got 16 comments on that post and it sent me headlong into blogging. My goal with that blog was to make people laugh. I had a lot of fun with it and my numbers of returning visitors were triple what they are now.
A little over two months later, our oldest daughter Chai Tea, ran away. Some would argue that an 18 year old about to turn 19 cannot be considered a run away but that is what she did. Mr. Macchiato had gone round and round with her earlier in the day trying to get to the bottom of something that had come up the day before. Her boyfriend was a sophomore at the Air Force Academy and had decided to drop out and go back home to Mississippi. She hadn't seemed terribly upset, which we thought was a little odd, and then we got wind that maybe she was planning on leaving with him. Mr. Macchiato took the keys to her car and her gas card because he felt she was not being truthful. She was scheduled to help at church that night and she needed to meet with one of the pastors to show him a lovely presentation on the special needs class she had put together. Mr. Macchiato dropped her off and told her to call him when she needed to be picked up. She told him she loved him and went into the church. An hour and a half later... He and our son saw her going across a very busy road miles from the church. They quickly turned around and called out to her... she ran. They lost her when turning back around and in a moment... our lives were flipped completely upside down.
I wrote about it on my blog. The support from other bloggers was incredible. I did not share details about her... just about my struggle with it. However, I did share that she had been accepted into a run away program. Within hours of posting just that bit of information, someone who had been in the same homeschool support group... someone who had been a friend and had been on the same leadership team as I... who we had to ask to step down from leadership and then, due to her response, kick out of the group all together... tracked Chai Tea down and made contact. She had been kicked out of the group 2 1/2 years prior. This woman even gave Chai Tea a cell phone and has been paying the bill for it since. I had no idea she knew about my blog or had been reading it. One sentence... one sentence... I deleted the blog.
This woman's insertion into our family drama was more than I could take. We started seeing a counselor. Never in my life had I ever wanted to hurt someone else. Chai Tea had a blog and posted a poem she wrote directed toward me. The jist of it was that I had raised her to be a child. I responded in her comments by explaining that we weren't done. She had this expectation that because she was over 18 that she should have been ready to be on her own and that she had the right to do what she wanted. Chai Tea has always been fiercely independent... but has not wanted to take the necessary steps to independence, if that makes any sense. This woman commented after my comment... basically telling my daughter how talented and wonderful she is. I clicked on her and it took me to a new blog of hers. I was so angry. I left a comment that cut through it all and went straight to the heart. It was cold and basically told her that she was nothing. I was afraid and consumed by her presence in the situation. After I left that comment I felt like I was taking control of the situation and essentially telling her to bring it on. The comment was deleted within hours.
Mr. Macchiato was not happy about my leaving that comment. This woman's threats 2 1/2 years before were heinous and he was afraid that I had just poked her with a big stick... and our daughter was spending time with her and her family. We talked about it in counseling. Honestly... I don't know that I could have controlled myself had I run into this woman. However, after several weeks went by I grew increasingly ashamed of myself. The comment I left her was totally understandable given the history and the situation... but... Mr. Macchiato said to me one night that she is still one of God's children. I was so angry when he said that to me. I felt so powerless in the situation. The absolute unfairness of it!!! But, there it sat, in the back of my mind... speaking its truth into my heart. I struggled each day in my mind to justify the words I had written. I went back to that blog but was unable to leave a comment. I went to another blog of hers and tried to e-mail her through it but it wouldn't go through. I left a comment on that blog apologizing for what I had said. She readily accepted my apology and I am truly grateful. It was in that moment that I was set free from her.
Through counseling we have been able to put the pain and anger to the side and focus on what we need to do to maintain a relationship with our daughter. We are not happy with many of the decisions she has made. We worry about her. But, this isn't about us and having our parenting vindicated. We cannot afford to have anger get in the way. Our goal is to accept her as she is and where she is at. Is it hard? Yeah. We are her parents but it is no longer our job to parent her. She has to do that herself now. We do not correct her. We do not tell her what she should or should not do. We rarely call her or e-mail her but she knows we are here if she wants to talk to us. We are proud of her for not dropping out of school and graduating. She is working now and has just moved into an apartment. She is still in the program for run aways and doing what she needs to do (and what she wouldn't do for us) to work her way toward true independence.
Chai Tea has gone with us to our counselor several times. During one of our sessions we talked about the fact that her cell phone was being paid for by this other woman. Chai Tea was defensive and said that it was a birthday gift. Our counselor explained to her that nothing is ever free and especially not in that kind of circumstance. I am glad to say that she has now bought her own cell phone and calling plan. She still sees the other woman and her family but that is her decision. We spend time with her regularly. She's been texting me a lot and yesterday called me... just to talk. It is our hope that if the bottom falls out in her life that she will turn to us... that we will be her safety net. In the meantime, we are working on building a new relationship and learning to let go and let her stand on her own.
We are not seeing our counselor currently. He had been having some pain and went in to see the doctor. He was admitted for a week, during which time it was discovered that he had a tumor that was affecting both his kidney and liver function. We saw him a few days before he was to have surgery and he told us that the tumor was encapsulated so even if it is cancer, his prognosis should still be good but that he would be out longer. We don't know the details beyond that since his service won't say. However, he has been in the hospital for over four weeks now so we fear the worst. Any prayers said on his behalf will be appreciated.
**NOTE: Believe it or not, I am careful about what I share blogging. I share a lot of my thoughts and history but I don't think I'm all that unique in terms of humanity and for me, it is more about reaching out to other people who may think they are alone in their struggles and maybe aleviating some of their pain by realizing other people go through the same stuff... and maybe opening someone elses eyes to a struggle they don't understand. Hopefully, by sharing the above y'all will see the importance of not detailing certain things in your blogs as a precaution. Don't give specifics about what you are going to do and when... wait until afterwards to share that stuff. Even with my caution... one sentence caused our family a lot trouble.