Tuesday 7th July 2020

Women Of Courage Series. #40 Anonymous. 41/2020.

Women of Courage Series.

How did it start? Read here!

Who was the first Woman of Courage to share her story? It was Sam.

Thank you all…today might be an anonymous post, as have several others been, to protect the identities of those whose stories form part of the post.

ONE YEAR ON…here we are…..in May 2020 with the fortieth person to share her story.

2020 Image For the Series.

Here is the introduction to the series.

Courage is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s doing something that frightens you. We face situations that demand courage every day. These situations provide us with choices, and the way we respond to those choices determines our future. Dayne Shuda.

 

Trigger warning: Family Breakdown, Grief, Terminal Illness.

 

Women Of Courage Series. #40 Anonymous. 41/2020.

“THEY SAY WE WALKED AWAY”

When Denyse asked me to join this incredible group of women in her Women of Courage series I wondered where to focus.

How do I do my spot on your screen justice?

How should I make this worth your while?

 

Today I am going to hold my husband’s hand and tell you about the day we had to find more courage than we ever thought we’d have to find in our lifetime.

Today I’m going to talk about the day we chose to walk away.

 

The Back Story

Once upon a time two people met and fell in love. They got married with his young daughter standing beside them.

His daughter was ingrained in their marriage and became the much-loved big sister to the children born from their union.

Fast forward to when his daughter got married, fell pregnant and moved interstate.

The daughter and her husband needed financial assistance to buy a home which the two people offered as guarantors.

Then the daughter got cancer.

Her husband walked out of the family home leaving her, their child, the cancer and the debt.

The two people don’t know why he did this.

They never asked.

Instead, the two people and the extended village supported the daughter as best they could and fell deeply in love with their grandchild.

Over the next five years the daughter cried often. As she fought the cancer she was also fighting for custody of her child.

She gratefully won the second battle.  She could not beat the first.

 

The cancer was aggressive.  The husband returned.

All money, court cases and his hurtful emails were forgotten as a united front was created for peace in her final year.

The daughter passed away surrounded by love.

 

The two people reached out to the husband offering meals, cleaning, baby sitting and support for the mini-me born from their daughter’s womb.

Then one day the husband declared the two people were no longer grandparent worthy.

Despite their best efforts in trying to understand his aggression, access to their daughter’s mini-me was taken from them via a text message.

Just like her mamma who’d passed away 6 months prior, they would not see their grandchild again.

 

The Pursuit For Peace

The above story is a very quick and overly simplified look at the twenty-five years I personally had the pleasure of being a stepmother and the 6 years I got to be a step-grandmother.

Of course, we didn’t just walk away then and there.

We chose to seek peace.

This was a very weird turn of events given the unity and open-door policy we’d extended.

We waited.

 

Then we gently texted, called and visited the house of the husband awaiting the day it would be business as usual.

We assumed he was going through a phase that required distance and fewer interactions in his life.

Alas, he ignored all contact and rejected all visits.

As a peace-loving family, we’ve never been involved in this sort of animosity.

My husband and I have backgrounds which are in synch.

We don’t do drama.

Our families don’t do war.

As an extended bunch, we choose to accept people for who they are and focus on strengths.

We choose peace and we choose happiness.

We don’t know why he rejected us so firmly and completely.

The people around us suggest it was his own guilt driving the decisions rather than anything we had personally done.

Counsellors advised likewise.

 

My husband – father and maternal grandfather – he knew.

He knew the day his daughter passed away it was only a matter of time he’d lose his granddaughter.

He knew the husband well enough to predict the future. He was just waiting for whatever excuse the husband would use to “justify” it.

 

When it became clear the husband was serious about taking our grandchild away, we sought the advice of lawyers and organized mediation.

 

We sat and listened to all the things he hated about us.  I personally spent the entire session in tears. I so badly wanted to explode. I so badly wanted to speak my truth.  I so badly just wanted to remind him of his cowardly departure from our daughter five years prior. His cowardly departure from her cancer and the $500,000 mortgage he left us with in a town where industry has disappeared, and houses have halved in value.

 

Do you know how hard it was to welcome someone into our home after wiping away our daughter’s chemo tainted tears caused by her husband’s emails, texts and profanities from the other end of a phone? Words I can’t utter because they are too disgusting to repeat.

 

Do you know how hard it was to watch him spend his newly found wealth gained from her death?

But my husband and I didn’t shout.  We didn’t say the things we wanted to say.  Why? Because we choose peace.

That afternoon the husband told us if ever our granddaughter asked to see us, he would consider it.

Then he said, “but quite frankly, she’s never mentioned your names”.

Then he walked out the door.

 

When you love someone, truly love someone, all you want for them is peace.

So, for the sake of our daughter’s memory and the sake of our granddaughter, we made the ultimate decision when he left that mediation session.

As I pressed my face into my husband’s tear soaked suit, we both agreed to walk away in the belief that when she’s old enough and no longer under the influence of her father, our granddaughter will come looking for her Mamma’s other family.

 

Is there something you learned from this that you could recommend helping others who need courage?

In all honesty, I would never wish this heartbreak on anyone.

The feeling is so overwhelming it’s unfathomable.

Since that day in the mediator’s office we’ve had to dig deep just to go about our daily activities.

But there is always a lesson worth sharing:

 

  1. When you love something, set it free: The greatest courage comes from being selfless. To continue fighting may have put our granddaughter under stress.  While our hearts will be broken forever, her heart will mend.
  2. Nobody can take away our true selves, unless we let them: I am still a stepmother. I am still a grandmother.  I can’t see either of our girls anymore, but they are still in my heart, in my head and in my soul.  They remain ingrained in who I am as a person, who we are as a couple and who we are as a family.  I continue to talk to our daughter every day, and I write letters to our granddaughter which I keep in a box for the day she comes back to us.  Plus, I have her mother’s voice recordings to give her when she’s of age and a book her mamma half wrote for her in her final days.  I will finish that book and put it in her box of “we love you”.  Nobody can take away the person I became when I married into that father/daughter dynamic.
  3. Behind every challenge is an opportunity: Walking away that day with our hearts heavy and our souls severely damaged, gave us the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and try new things. I had given myself to be available as a caregiver for several years.  I was offered long-term contracts but never took them so I could be available for our daughter and then our granddaughter.  Finding myself in a new career has been an amazing up-side. And yes, there is an upside. Nothing will replace what we had, but without it we can still thrive.  Lie in a heap in a corner or get up and bloody well get on with life.  That’s the decision we must make in these situations.

 

Do you think you are able to be more courageous now if the life situation calls for it? Why is that?

Absolutely. In this uncertain world filled with bushfires, hailstorms, floods and pandemics, my resilience is high.

My courage is at an all time high.

We have gone through stuff and experienced such loss and not only survived it but walked away from it hand in hand.

The most courageous thing we ever had to do was turn and walk away.  Everything else is a piece of cake to be honest.

 

Is there any message you would give to others facing a situation where courage could be needed?

Believe.

  • Believe in your ability to get through the challenges
  • Believe that while ever you are being the best version of yourself, your courage will far outshine the rubbish that surrounds you.
  • Believe in the fact this too shall pass.
  • Believe that with each new situation you are faced you will come out wiser, stronger, braver and more resilient.
  • Believe in who you are and the value you add to this world.

 

Was it hard to tell this story?

Yes, it’s hard.  It’s hard because by putting it out there I am opening the wounds.  I am also potentially opening a door for more explosive behaviour from the husband and his extended village.  But you know what? This series is about courage.  For years I tip toed around being the diplomatic corps for the sake of my stepdaughter.  Always the insurer of peace in the blended family dynamic.  My post today … these words you are reading … are coming from a place of courage.

 

Any final words?

If anybody reads my story and feels lost in a similar situation, please do reach out to Denyse.  I am a strong believer that the power within us, extends beyond us.  I am lucky that I have a hand to hold.  Not everybody has that.  I can be that hand for you if you need it.

A powerful story and one of which some has been shared with me personally. I thank this person for her literal courage to share.

While the author of this post would like to reveal herself, for the sake of her daughter’s memory and her grandchild’s privacy she has chosen to remain anonymous. 

There will be no replies from this poster.

She will, however, be reading and I will be responding to readers’ comments.

Thank you for your understanding.

Denyse.

 

The following information may be helpful to you or another. These are Australian-based.

  • Your Family G.P. can be a helpful person to listen and make referrals.
  • Lifeline on 13 11 14
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
  • Phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for 24 hour assessment, referral, advice, and hospital and community health centre contact details
  • Qualified Psychologists can be found by visiting https://www.psychology.org.au/FindaPsychologist/
  • Australian Counselling Association is on 1300 784 333 to find a counsellor

Joining each Wednesday with Sue and Leanne here for Mid Life Share the Love Linky.

On Thursdays I link here for Lovin Life with Leanne and friends.

Copyright © 2020 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

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Comments

  1. What a heart-breaking story. My heart goes out to the author and her husband for the loss of their daughter, then the loss (hopefully temporary loss) of their granddaughter too. Thank you for sharing this. I can understand how, after trying everything else, she felt they had to walk away for the sake of peace. That would be so so hard to do. I don’t know if I were in her shoes, if I could do it. But you never know the strength you can summon up when the time comes. I hope so much that your granddaughter seeks you out when she’s able and that you can have a happy reunion.

    • Thank you so much for your most kind and understanding words Lori.

      I am sure the writer will be comforted indeed by your generous and warm wishes.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  2. A very sad, heartbreaking situation. I can only imagine the depth of your grief to not only lose your stepdaughter, but her daughter as well. I probably would have walked away too because to carry on fighting would have only caused more pain. Unfortunately grandparents often lose in these situations. Thankyou for courageously sharing your story, I hope one day your grandchild finds you again

    • Ah Christina, yes it can be common…much as we grandparents would not like it to be so.

      Your words will provide comfort I am sure to the writer.

      Many thanks for your kindness.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  3. My heart is breaking for you. You’re story was so hard to read, yet I Spink to read of your positive attitude. As someone who also has heartbreaking issues, I do feel for you and wish you luck for your future. #MLSTL

    • I know what you mean Jennifer…sad oh so sad yet there is comfort to be taken in knowing how ‘to walk away’ even if it meant what it did.

      I reach out too you too…as I understand. Being a grandparent is a joy but it can be so hard when separation and more occur to spoil on-going relationships. I cannot add more, but I “know” this too.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  4. The grace and beauty you’ve shown in response to such terrible life events is a testimony to the people you and your husband are. I think the father of your granddaughter will eventually lose – nobody comes from a place of ugliness without their child eventually seeing it and turning away from the darkness to search for some light. She’ll want to know more about her mum, she’ll want to connect with her mum’s family. She might be thwarted from that while she’s a child, but eventually she’ll contact you – and that box of memories you’re creating will be the perfect bridge and the beginning of a new relationship – probably at a time when you’ve healed further and found yourselves again outside of all this unbearable horror. Sending my love and a hug today xx
    Thanks for linking this beautiful post up with us at #MLSTL Denyse.

    • Leanne, thank you for sharing such a heartfelt and caring comment with wisdom and thought forthcoming for the person who wrote this.

      I know she will be not only touched by your words of considerable empathy but they may even help her in terms of moving forward.

      Some fine and helpful considerations and hope here too Leanne.

      Thank you kindly.

      Take care,
      Denyse.

  5. Within the first couple of sentences I knew who you were and the tears flowed as I read on. It’s an awful situation. So heartbreaking. I hope she seeks you out when she is older. I cannot understand her father at all. How very selfish and cruel of him. Does he not realise he is hurting his daughter by doing this? I love the box of letters you’re keeping for her and finishing her mother’s book. The most beautiful gift you can give to your stepdaughter. xoxo

    • Thank you Min for your understanding and care….and the person who posted her story will be, I am sure, buoyed by your comments and love.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  6. This is a generous share from a generous person. I hope in time the grand daughter does come to visit, because that bond is both unique to you both but gives a memory of her mother to her too. The stories that she was too young to remember. The person she loved but was too little to really know.

    Life is infinitely more complicated that we are lead to believe. But hope can carry kindness with it. I think your gift of peace for your granddaughter is a selfless thing to do. I hope in time it is appreciated and restorative.

    • Truly is a beautifully sad tale encompassing all the emotions yet, throughout, the love wins.

      And keeping the stories alive via memories and more, will, I hope, in time lead to a reunion of sorts.

      Who knows what …but it will, over time, be something the granddaughter is likely to see.

      Lovely words Lydia, of hope and comfort to this writer.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  7. My heart breaks for you – and your grandchild. You’ve chosen the higher road, the harder road, and I only wish that someday your grand daughter has the privilege of knowing you again. #teamlovinlife

    • Thank you so much for your kind and loving words.

      The person who has shared so much with candour can only be admired for taking, as you say, the ‘higher road’ and I too hope that one day this little person comes to know her Mum’s family again.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  8. I can’t imagine how awful that would be to lose your daughter and then grandchild like that.I hope you’re able to reconnect with your grandchild so she can know what happened and it wasn’t your choice to end the relationship. If I was that granddaughter, I’d like to meet and know you. All the best to you.

    • It would be lovely to think and hope that will happen I agree Christine.

      So much depending on the behaviour of grown ups who actually are not that “grown up” at times is one we cannot control but sure can bring heartache.

      Let’s hope your idea is what happens.

      Take care,

      Denyse.

  9. Oh what a sad story and what generous souls you are to cope with it the way you have. I have no idea how I would react but I think ‘war’ is a good start. But you chose a noble and peaceful route which sat well with you and your husband and I can only commend you on that. My heart aches for you and your family. I hope you get to see your granddaughter one day and wish you well. Thanks Denyse for sharing your story. xx

    • Yes it is a sad sad story and knowing the poster and the situation it is unthinkable that it even went the way it did but we cannot control those others of course.

      Sad when grown ups don’t actually act grown up but this couple have taken the higher road and left the situation with a non-combative goal.

      I admire them for that. Letting go is hard but in this case, it may help with coming back. Life is a mystery pack sometimes.

      Thank you for your generous reaching out to comment.

      Take care,
      Denyse

  10. This is a heartbreaking story depicting the strength of human compassion. Choosing peace and walking away, still trusting that if you let something go free, ultimately it will come back, are noble and worthy traits. I can’t imagine how hard this has been or what a heavy burden it’s been to bear. How true in life it is that bad things still happen to good people. My heart goes out to the author and her family, and I really hope that love finds a way for her granddaughter to reunite with her maternal family in the near, rather than far future.

    • I know the writer and her family are supported by the words of those who have taken the time to write a comment and that by sharing, it has helped ‘ease’ in the smallest of ways the concern about sharing with anyone.

      Thank you Jo.

      Denyse.

  11. May your grace, dignity and deep love serve you well in your choice of peace, for all. Beautifully articulated. “The power within us extends beyond us”. Caring, generous soul I wish you continued peace of mind. Sandra Xx

Denyse values & reads every comment written, thank you. There is always a reply.

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