Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Chai Tea

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.

15 comments:

Deborah said...

Hi, although I knew your daughter had run away, I had never found a post that really talked about it. It was hard reading this post, because it's so close to home. Our daughter left home on her 18th birthday, and left us a note. It was a very nice note, thanking us for all we had done for her, but explaining that she just didn't agree with our rules etc. etc....sthe kind of note I would have expected from one of our foster daughters...not MY daughter.
That was 9 1/2 years ago, and she is now married and has a little girl...finally realizing that all she really wants is to be a stay at home mom....
Our relationship has gone through many changes and stages over the years, and is still not what I had hoped and expected while she was growing up...but it is what it is.
We continually pray for her to come back to the Lord...that is the relationship that matters most.
I doubt my comment will be encouraging, but I guess I wanted to let you know I've been there...

Sara said...

This must have been a difficult post to write.
For some reason a blog can feel like a good place to put your thoughts. I've had a few experiences where I write something that I regret later, or I get comments that are less than supportive and I end up wishing that I hadn't poured my heart out so publicly. Sometimes it's hard to know what to write and what to hold back.
I hope things work out for the best for you and your family. It's got to be hard to have distance like that with your daughter. Sounds like she's doing what she needs to do right now and letting her do it her way is probably a pretty important lesson for both of you.
My thoughts and prayers are with your counselor as well as with you and your daughter.

Laura ~Peach~ said...

I so know what you are talking about... and I am one who is many ways is probably guilty of putting more on my blog than I should but when I made the descision to write about my life I spent time in prayer and asking God to guide my happy typing fingers so that the goal of my telling it would be met and there would be no guilt or blame or reasons for the persons involved to feel slighted or accused ... if that makes sense... anyway the whole reason for telling the story is to show someone out there who needs to know ... that they too can survive and be very ok inspite of the horrid things they are going through eithe rby circumstances beyond their control or by dealing with the consequenses of the descisions they make...
As one of those who was reading your blog from before... I recall laughing until I cried about the pants! and crying and praying as things happened with your teen running away and feeling an intense loss when you closed that blog and the thrill of realising that this was you back ... I am so grateful you did come back.
Hugs and prayers
Laura

Lucy said...

Kelly Jean, so nice to reconnect with you after all these years. We met at Calvary Chapel Woman's thingy in Panama Beach about 5 years ago with KD and Kay and Eileen from Miss. I love your blogs and I am a faithful reader you didn't even know about.
Lucy (Susie)

noble pig said...

Oh wow, what an incredible story and must have been hard to write. I can't imagine how hard this is for you. I hope one day things will work to your advantage and your family will be close again. I'm thinking of you and thanks for sharing this part of you.

Lynda said...

I want you to know how much your post touched me. I worry if I will have these same sort of issues as my daughter ages. My husband and I have decided that all we can do is our very best and with God's help, she will keep the values we have tried to instill. If not, we'll know we've done the best we can and will continue to be there for her.

Thank you for sharing - I think I will put you on my list - I am sure I can learn from you.

Chris H said...

Darn kids....

Sorry to hear about the counselor - I hope he is alright.

Have a lovely day mate.

Karen Deborah said...

wow KJ, I'll miss your sweet face I love your pretty picture. I understand. Your such a writer. Blogging is satisfying and I'm still trying to figure out how I got so addicted to it. It's so much better than TV and all the bystander garbage out there. Real people sharing stories all over the world, totally cool. You my dear are one of my most favorites. I really missed you before and I am glad your here. I "hear" you when your talking, and love the way you make me laugh. I'm grateful for the progress with CT. You know I don't have any contact all all with my daughter and it's hard for the girls.

Junebug said...

I am glad to read this explanation. It's really hard to know what to do all the time as we are expected to by our children. You do the best you can and with God's grace it is all you can do.

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

As someone else said, I also felt an intense loss when you deleted your other blog, plus if I'm really honest, I was just so worried about y'all. I couldn't put myself in your shoes, but my heart ached for you. I have never been blessed with children, but I've said this a million times: There's nothing worse than worrying about your children.

I think I originally found your first blog from PW...??? not sure about that, but I think so. Thankful that I found you again some time back.

You are a good mom....AND you ARE the safety net.

Saying a prayer for the counselor too.

Sending best wishes only your way...

jojo said...

Thank you for sharing so much of your self and for the warning. I'm rather new to the blogging and have worried about how much to share and just who may find it. I appreciate your honesty and hold good thoughts for you and your family.

Flea said...

I'm so glad to hear that Chai Tea sounds as though she's listening to someone, growing up some, in touch with y'all. I'm sorry for the painful experience with that woman - I know that kind of experience and the resulting feelings firsthand. I also know the freedom you talk about. :) It's all good, Coffee Bean. And it's all in God's hands.

Alison said...

I loved reading this post. I remember the pain and confusion you went through and am so happy to hear that you are doing so well now. I am very happy for you, and proud of you. You and your family have done a lot of work and soul searching to come to the place and the healing you have today. I am glad you have a relationship with your daughter today, 6 months ago you were not sure this would happen. Time and hope and prayers work wonders.

(btw, we graduated HS the same year)

minnesotamom said...

CB,

Having been one of your readers through that time, it's like opening a semi-healed wound to re-read the heartache it put you through (and continues to put you through). I hope that God will continue to mend relationships, and that His will will be done in your family.

Flea said...

Hey - check my blog on Monday morning. There will be something there for you. :)