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.


Mother Jones RN said...

I understand why Alec Baldwin went off the deep end. And what kind of mother would give that tape to the press? It's an ugly situation.

I feel your pain. I had the same type of situation with my ex-husband. My kids and I are working to repair the damage that my ex-husband caused to our relationship.


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry Eileen that you and your daughter were both cheated of sharing those precious years . Often when families seperate the children seem to pay the highest price.


RX850 said...

MJ, it's a hard road there, but you have to trust that in the end your relationship with them will be stronger.

Dee, yes the children are the losers. My daughter would come into my bed in the middle of the night crying, because she felt so guilty for the bad things that she had said to me and it was never ever her fault at all.

Rhea said...

The tape of Alec Baldwin was sickening. Kids should never be the target of that kind of abuse.

AtYourCervix said...

I absolutely relate to your issues with your ex and your daughter. I've been going through some of the exact things, with my ex husband, and our now 17 year old daughter. She sees me as this evil creature, and wants nothing to do with me. Even though she has my phone number, and knows she can call any time, she never does.

My ex husband has tried to alienate our son from me as well, but he's not been as successful with him, thank goodness.

But it breaks me up inside, that I have not been able to be a mother to my daughter for over 4 years now. The parental alienation by her father started the moment I moved out of the house, bringing both children with me.

It's exhausting. I've cried so many tears.

RX850 said...

Rhea, yes, and the kids always lose big time!

AYC, I am so sorry that you are going through this. Just know that you are not alone.


John (eyejustam) said...

I understand anger and frustration but alex pushed it too far. He should make amends and get over it. we all blow it at times. I believe that is why Jesus gave His life for us. Right?

RX850 said...

Yes, John, we certainly do blow it at times! I am forever grateful that the people in my own life can see past the messes and love me anyway.