Friday, April 20, 2007

Tug of war

A tug of war should never involve a child. When I heard on the news about Alec Baldwin's tirade against his daughter over the phone, it just made my heart hurt. I've been there. I wouldn't do it. It cost me several years of being without my precious daughter. Shame on Alec Baldwin for subjecting his daughter to his frustration and shame on Kim Basinger for making the message public and getting a bodyguard for her daughter to further inflame the situation. Here is the rant he left on his daughter's answering machine:

Hey, I want to tell you something, OK? And I want to leave a message for you right now. 'Cause again, it's 10:30 here in New York on a Wednesday, and once again I've made an ass of myself trying to get to a phone to call you at a specific time. When the time comes for me to make the phone call, I stop whatever I'm doing and I go and I make that phone call. At 11 o'clock in the morning in New York and if you don't pick up the phone at 10 o'clock at night. And you don't even have the G**damn phone turned on. I want you to know something, OK?
I'm tired of playing this game with you. I'm leaving this message with you to tell you you have insulted me for the last time. You have insulted me. You don't have the brains or the decency as a human being. I don't give a damn that you're 12 years old, or 11 years old, or that you're a child, or that your mother is a thoughtless pain in the ass who doesn't care about what you do as far as I'm concerned. You have humiliated me for the last time with this phone.
And when I come out there next week, I'm going to fly out there for the day just to straighten you out on this issue. I'm going to let you know just how disappointed in you I am and how angry I am with you that you've done this to me again. You've made me feel like s**t and you've made me feel like a fool over and over and over again. And this crap you pull on me with this G**damn phone situation that you would never dream of doing to your mother and you do it to me constantly and over and over again. I am going to get on a plane and I am going to come out there for the day and I am going to straighten your ass out when I see you. Do you understand me? I'm going to really make sure you get it. Then I'm going to get on a plane and I'm going to turn around and come home. So you'd better be ready Friday the 20th to meet with me. So I'm going to let you know just how I feel about what a rude little pig you really are. You are a rude, thoughtless little pig, OK?

I don't usually talk about this because although it was many years ago, it still can bring pain and tears. When my daughter was small, her dad and I divorced. The divorce was quite amicable and we shared joint custody of our daughter. This ended when our daughter was ready to enter first grade. I felt she should go to school where I lived; he felt she should go to school where he lived. After a year of court battles, my daughter was showing signs of severe stress, and I said that I would settle for joint custody with her father having physical custody if he would get her into counseling right away.

When it came to my daughter, from the start my ex made it hard for me to communicate with her or to see her. Our first Christmas apart, he threatened that I wouldn't see her unless I signed over total custody to him. True to his word, when I showed up at his door on Christmas morning with presents, they weren't home. I had gotten a court order specifically to see her this Christmas because of his threats, but he defied it. I left the presents at the door and left, and I found out later that he told her that 'mommy didn't even want to see you and didn't even get you a present'.
He would unplug the phone so that when I was scheduled to call her, the phone would just ring and ring in my ear. He told her that I didn't try to call. This went on for several years. I endured thwarted visits, calls that were never connected and a barrage of hateful things said about me.
At one point, when I questioned why she was never home when I called, he offered a specific time for me to call. It was Sundays at 6 pm. Dutifully I would call; I would panic if I was a minute late because he would unplug the phone if I was late. I got to talk to her but only for a moment because she would be called for dinner almost immediately. Eventually she started calling me names and I was bewildered. She told me later that her step mother told her to call me these names.
There was much more, but this should be enough to explain my frustration. So I understand the place Alec Baldwin spoke from. But I would never, never bad mouth her dad or step mother or condemn her for speaking trash to me.
I'm no hero. I coped the best I could. For the 5 years that my daughter lived with her dad I was in agony. Probate court sided with him. It was the 80's and fathers' rights were being pushed. I was a professional nurse with a spotless record but the court said I put work ahead of my daughter. WTF??? was a question I often asked myself. I finally consoled myself by immersing myself in drugs. This was another hell that lasted several years. I even left nursing until I could finally pull myself together.
My salvation was a counselor who told me that I should give my daughter my phone number and tell her to call me collect whenever she wanted, day or night. This way it would be her choice to contact me if she wanted and not under any scrutiny from her dad and step mother. She told me that it may take a while, but that my daughter would begin to question whether what she had been told about me was true. And to my surprise, she called. Infrequently at first, but more and more, and eventually we spent a day, then a weekend together. Then she wanted to live with me again. I wasn't the monster that her dad had portrayed and he pays the price of a poor relationship with her today.
I have never, ever regretted not bad mouthing her dad, or making her a pawn in a sick battle. I have had to bite my tongue and deal with enormous pain, but in the end, the relationship I have with my daughter today is so worth it!
All I have to say now is thank the Lord for mental health workers, social workers and nurses who counsel those of us in so much agony and pain, so that we can survive the unimaginable.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


I am having just the worst time wrapping my mind around the devastation at Virginia Tech. So much carnage and so many suffering families that it's mind blowing. I turned the TV on yesterday and my mind was assaulted with the images and realities of how life can change in a heartbeat. I called my daughter just to hear her voice. I cannot imagine what all of the parents and families of the dead students and faculty must be going through. But it must be a nightmare of unimaginable proportion. There but for the grace of God...

We seem to realize, after the fact, that something was not right with someone who would do this. How do you make a conscious decision to kill 32 people? The signs are there. Half hearted attempts are made to help the person. But not enough was done. That seems to be the case with the man who is responsible for this carnage.

I wish for everyone involved peace and some solace from this unimaginable pain they must be feeling. For the rest of us, I wish that we finally learn something from this and prevent it from happening yet again.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Back to business

I've been lax about posting in my own blog lately and I've been missing it. I have spent the past couple of months posting in the rehab blog about my pulmonary rehab experience. It's been slow going for me but I'm managing to move forward.

I miss not writing about things that are on my mind and things that I'm doing and thinking and feeling. So I am going to be here more often.

This month we had a new class start and that's been fun. This particular group is so vocal and ask so many questions that the time flies by. I am so proud of the (mostly) women who find us and are starting a new life for themselves. For some of them, this is the first time that they have done something good for themselves ever. Some come from abusive homes and are striking out on their own after terrible experiences. Some find us after they have raised their kids and want to do something worthwhile with the rest of their lives. All of them inspire me because they are so brave and bring so much determination to the table. It makes me feel so good that we can offer grants and scholarships to many of them that could never have been able to do this without some form of help.

Our program is up for re-certification by the Department of Public Health and I've been working on that for a couple of weeks. I thought I left behind the paperwork that governmental bodies impose when I left full time nursing but lo and behold, they're everywhere! But this could never be as bad as a JCAHO accreditation or a nursing home survey and I do it gladly, knowing that. I've been through them both and they were painful!

The foundation that I work for and I have been talking about a program that we'd like to start that involves free home visits for patients with CHF and COPD to help reduce ER visits and hospitalizations. I've had meetings with the staff of a program that has been active for about 5 years in another community. It's exciting to start something from the ground up and of course, it's definitely an area that is close to my heart (and lungs)!