Its my only child’s birthday today. The day she was born I was walking on air. It’s a special day that we should celebrate together. But the last time I managed to see her on her birthday was exactly 13 years ago today. She was just 7 years old, a cheeky blonde chatterbox with a sharp wit and a ferocious loving connection to her Dad.
Today she is 20, a beautiful young lady leaving her teen years behind. In all her teens we only shared one meal together. One. We had less than 8 hours together. Some people think that’s fine and of no consequence. Psychology and human attachment theory tells us the exact opposite.
I know from photos that she still has those electric blue eyes that melt people. Other than that, despite my best efforts through all these years, I don’t know anything about her life. She may or may not have followed snapshots of my life on social media and she may or may not have read my letters but I was forcefully shut out of her life years ago. Her entire paternal family was erased. No one In her life knows me except the maternal family, so I have got absolutely no information about my daughter for years.
The experts in this field say that the one thing rejected parents must do when parental alienation has set in, is stay healthy and continue to live their lives with happy caring people. There is enough tragedy in this needless pathology, without the balanced parent becoming broken and left behind grasping at what has been. Live your life and paint a tapestry for them to blend into when they resurface. So I have. My life is an enriched fusion of 2 countries and 2 cultures. My daughter doesn’t know what she is missing – although I’ve tried to tell her.
I may not have walked the path I would have chosen 20 years ago but I have found some treasures on the detours placed before me. This is why I now have a second home in Thailand, (the Land of Smiles) that I share with a wife I adore who has enriched my life in so many wonderful ways. Nothing can, or should replace the huge hole in my heart where my daughter always resides, but we are doing our best to follow the experts’ advice and suck the juice out of life. We have now embarked on the exciting plans we set years ago.
We will be travelling a lot. But wherever we stay our door is open and wherever we eat there is a place at our table for her, with stories aplenty to be told. I think she will feel she belongs instantly. That bond she forged with her Dad may be stretched taut but parental bonds are the toughest there are. Constantly, but unconsciously, they are pulling at her heartstrings. A trigger-point will come. Who knows when? Nobody.
But I do know this: No matter how long it takes, I’ll be there for her. That’s what unconditional means. This was not of her making and despite what some supremely ignorant people will claim, this was never ever her free choice.
It’s hard to describe what it’s like to be here. Karen Woodall has worked with alienated children for over two decades. She is in awe at the power of this love and generously sums it up for most rejected parents:
“The greatest love of all is the love of a parent rejected in this landscape, lost and alone and in pain and yet somehow, anyhow, there when the child finds the road home.”
Its hard to be sending love to your child for so long with no return but it’s who I am – and in a way I cannot explain, it makes me appreciate life in ways others can’t.
Happy birthday to my darling daughter. We hope you find the road to your other home soon where love, laughter and light awaits.