stomachby Tina Swithin

“Mom, I really don’t want to go. My stomach starts hurting if I even think about it,” said Piper (age 9.5).

That was how our walk to school began this morning.

Tomorrow is our first supervised visit with Seth. The last time the girls saw him was July 2013 and they have refused his calls since April of this year. I haven’t been blogging about our new roller coaster ride lately because somehow, putting it out there makes it feel real. With tomorrow’s visit looming, reality is knocking on my door whether I like it or not and unfortunately, I am being forced to open it.

A huge part of me feels tremendous guilt. My daughters are safe. The majority of the OMB group members are forced to send their children to the monsters- unsupervised. I have been there and I know that feeling so well. I am trying to find my gratitude but it’s been difficult. I need to remind myself that our visits are supervised and the girls are safe. I need to remember that supervised visits are what I fought SO hard for. I need to be thankful for the 14+ months of peace that we’ve had. Then my daughter tells me that she wishes he would disappear forever and it all comes rushing back in. He is back.

I picked the girls up from school on Monday and as Piper climbed into my car she said with teary-eyes, “Mom- my stomach hurts so bad. I want to go home. I don’t want to go to the appointment.” We were scheduled to go straight from school to meet the new supervisor, Laura. I looked at Piper through the rearview mirror and I could see it in her eyes. “Honey, it will only be an hour and we can’t cancel.” “Mom, I’m really sick. I don’t want to go.”  This is my daughter who never misses school and has even tried to attend school with a slight fever. She is rarely sick and I’d never seen her act like this.

We arrived at the supervisor’s office and as we sat on her couch in the waiting room, Piper was holding her stomach and writhing in pain. It took everything in me not to grab the girls and leave. This is opening wounds that were finally healing. The girls are thriving in school and in life. I explained to the supervisor that Piper was having a stomach ache and she did a good job of trying to ease their minds about how the visits would play out and the games they could play along with the places they could go. Afterwards, I met with her alone and explained my concerns while providing as much history as I could. Like most therapists, she is of the mindset that two parents, no matter how broken, are better than just one parent. As a child who was subjected to the mental illness of a parent, I have a different and firm opinion on that subject but that is a blog in itself. On the way home, Piper said, “Mom….I really don’t want to go see him.”

Tuesday morning, I woke the girls up from school and Piper was in pain. Her stomach again. I called into the school and let them know that she would be staying home. I contacted her therapist and was instructed to use this as an opportunity to teach her about self-care. We went to lunch together and then had ice cream. We had the opportunity to talk about life and school. She spend the day reading books, watching movies and doing crafts. I hate watching what the stress from Seth is doing to her. In addition to the stomach aches, the stress is also coming out this week in pre-teen defiance which is difficult to absorb however, I understand. I have the tools to process these events and they are still difficult for me at the age of 40. She simply does not have the coping skills and I hate that he has the power to roll in like an evil hurricane and cause such discord.

As I type this, “Daughters” by John Mayer is playing in the background. Thanks, Pandora. Very appropriate timing.

Fathers be good to your daughters.”

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