Part 1 can be found here.
After the marriage ended I was brought to my knees and my eyes were opened. I was finally aware of all my weaknesses that I either turned my back on or was ashamed of. The main one I wanted to deal with was my anger. I no longer wanted to be a slave to it. I watched my brother and dad become consumed by it that I no longer wanted it. I wanted peace for once in my life. It was hard to be transparent and vulnerable, especially for a guy. But I took the leap of faith and began speaking openly about it. The responses I received were the exact opposite of what I thought they would be. People did not judge me like I thought they would. They were inspired although I did not feel like someone that could inspire. They all had their own weaknesses and it gave them encouragement to deal with theirs. I immediately started to feel inner peace. A peace I cannot explain.
Dealing with my anger and finding the inner peace and happiness I was looking for overflowed into other areas of my life. It strengthened my relationship with my daughter. It allowed me to focus on what mattered most, guiding her and helping her grow through love, not fear. I finally became content in my life. Not complacent, but content. Ok with where I am and what I have in life. Of course I get angry from time to time or frustrated, but I am able to recognize it quicker and either diffuse it quickly, or if I do stumble, quickly apologize and ask for forgiveness. I know I will never be perfect, but having a stronger self-awareness has brought me a long way. I would not have it if I did not go through what I went through.
My goal is to continue to grow as a person and a father. I have failed as father many times, especially with my older ones. I have learned from those mistakes and want to change how I do things. I want my daughter to respect me out of love, not fear. I know when she gets older, she will ultimately choose a guy that is like me. A question I often ask myself is “if Kailee were to choose a guy like me right now, would I be happy with that choice?” For the longest time it was heck no. Asking that question is my drive to become a better person and dad. I want her to grow up and have the knowledge and mental toughness to deal with any hardship that comes her way effectively. I want to speak life into her, not cause death to her soul.
I am no longer stressed like I used to be. My anxiety has been minimized and often times it is nonexistent. I know that I will stumble but I am adamant about seeking growth. I do not give up. I get back up and I go at it again. I will continue to do so as long as I am breathing.
Raising a daughter with trauma is not easy. It is not easy for either of us. I have PTSD and so does she. Everything reminds her of her mommy. She will often be overcome by grief and cry asking for her mommy to come back. She will even say “I want a new mommy. When is God going to bring me a new mommy?” As a dad, this crushes me. I want to take her pain away and I can’t! All I can do is hold her and comfort her. And say “when God says its time, he will bring the right person into our life. For now, we need this time together to grow and become stronger.” Many times after she calms down, I will get her some ice cream or candy. Ice cream makes everyone happy. This has become our new normal as I like to call it.
As a single parent it is already hard to play both roles. Add trauma to the mix and it becomes that much harder. I often tell her that we are a team and we will get through this together. I take her to get pedicures and yes I get one with her. I play dolls with her. I watch her Disney movies with her and act out the parts with her. Personally, I think dads should connect with their daughters on this level even if mom is in the picture. I am constantly creating new memories with her because memories are important to the growth and well-being of a child, especially one who has experienced so much trauma in a short period of time.
She struggles in school because it is hard for her to focus. Everything triggers a memory of her mom. She has a hard time being away from home and sleeping in her own bed because fear is so great. I even wake up multiple times in the middle of the night and check to make sure she is breathing. This is what trauma does to a person. It affects everyone differently as well. Knowing the truth consciously is completely different than what trauma causes subconsciously. Trauma does not know the difference between reality and make believe. The struggle is real. But we deal with it. We adapt. We adjust. We make the best of it. We are becoming stronger everyday as a result.
I am changing my family tree.
I watched my dad fall apart after my mom passed. He ended up having triple bypass surgery and later had congestive heart failure several times. He was stricken with grief but also lives with the burden of anger. I watched my brother go through two major heart attacks and I believe one minor one. I made a stand that this will not happen to me. I am changing how I feel, how I act, and how I respond to others and situations. I will love deeper, I will live fuller, and I will make a difference in the lives of others, starting with mine and my daughter’s! And by God’s grace and strength, I will succeed.