Category Archives: family

Narcissism, poor self esteem, and when being unwilling to take Shiva’s drama makes me think I’m the narcissist.

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Thank you Google function “define:”
Narcissist: someone in love with themselves.

wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwnIts not really so simple. Of course many of us are familiar with Narcissus; the god that stared at himself in the water until he fell in and drowned. There is that surface definition of Narcissus where he was so in love with himself that he couldn’t look away, but the more I learn about narcissism  the more I believe that Narcissus was staring at his reflection obsessed with his flaws and not his beauty.

My grandmother once told me, ‘when a man tells you he loves you and then he starts telling you what’s wrong with him, listen, because he’s probably right.” I used to ignore my grandmother, but after the horrible divorce with my first husband, I have to admit, she was probably more right than I wanted her to be. Shiva did tell me a number of times that he didn’t deserve my love, because, he’s a narcissist. I didn’t listen. Now, my grandmother really likes Shiva. In fact, she pretty much adopted him against his wishes and would do anything for him. She advocates for some modern arranged marriage where we live in a threesome type situation forever so that everyone is happy. In her eyes, Shiva’s parents are satisfied because they picked a bride, I’m satisfied because I’m with Shiva and have a live in sister wife to share all love and sadness with, Shiva is happy because he’s pretty much a young Hugh Hefner in this imaginary scenario and she’s happy because there is finally a balance achieved for a work/child rearing balance called split the labor force among the additional family members. If only things were this easy? Yes the question mark is there on purpose. This scenario sounds like a nightmare.  
Instead, what I have is a collection of broken relationship pieces dragging out a long and painful death. I have my own sadness, pining over Shiva like a puppy misses its master, like a newborn cries for the breast, an aching sense that what I need is out of reach and it may never return to me. I have Shiva’s load of bollocks that range from “I love you and my heart knows that I should be with you” to “we are just friends” (and these aren’t even two separate phone calls). I have my friends telling me that Shiva needs to “sh*t or get off the pot”, and if there is a Nepali saying for this, I’d love to hear it. Basically, he’s being the hooker from Season 5 Episode 16 of How I Met Your Mother where everyone is trailing on the hook of someone else trailing on the hook of someone else and it just keeps going in a horrible repetitive cycle of despair. The only right thing to do in this situation is to tell the hooked or the hooker, “Its over, I’m never going to be with you, ever, at all, never.”I told Shiva all this, he watched the episode I was talking about and went on about how sorry he is that he’s been so selfish lately.
SORRY! Don’t be sorry! Sorry implies that maybe you have see the error or your ways and intend to somehow modify your behavior to ensure that you no longer repeat the same errors out of habit and ease. But what we have here, is habitual apologies. Another post at another time should be why I don’t force my kid to say sorry when she screws up, but only when she genuinely feels sorry for what she’s done.

Shiva will go weeks without talking to me after these episodes, attempting to set me free so I can find someone else, refusing to believe that I really am waiting for him to come home. He’ll tell me how unworthy he is, that I deserve better, then as if dedicated to the self-fulfilling prophecy, he tells me about all the girls he’s met since moving, about the ones he went clubbing with, the one that drove him home, the one that slept in his bed, but actually slept, not the other thing people mean when they say “sleep together”. And I’m expected to be supportive, loving, happy for his path to self understanding. And when he tells me that he realizes that he hates the “bachelor” lifestyle and is ready to settle down, but it cant be with me because I already have a child.

News flash! I’ve had a child the last 2.5 years we’ve been together. In fact, my child’s teachers are advising me on how to co-parent with Shiva since he is the prominent male role model that my daughter talks and cries about frequently at school. My family has seen it, my daughter has seen it, why can’t Shiva see it, that he has a family here? He says its because he has to focus on his school, his career, his life. And I am supposed to stand by and support that for him. I don’t have any problem being supportive, I love supporting Shiva. I love that when he calls we talk for hours. I love that he’ll tell me what he’s buying at the grocery store just so that I can hear his voice a few more minutes. I love that when he’s got a major presentation due in two days, he emails me a copy of the .ppt and we go over the whole thing while he narrates and tells me when to press enter. I love giving him positive feedback and getting the text later that he nailed it. I even love putting up with him when he’s in a bad mood and bitching me out because he is hungry. What I don’t love is when I need to share what’s going on in my life, he says, “I don’t have time for that, I don’t have the energy for that.” He used to listen to me over everything and I did monopolize a lot of his time during the custody battles with my ex husband. He did spend money to fly out to see me just a month before he flew out to drive across the country with me for the move. He’s done a lot and nobody is really keeping track of who did more when, but these days, the answer is always, “I can’t.”

A free ticket to come visit on winter break and he says, “I can’t”. A shipment of wellness tea for him, drink it? He says, “I can’t”. The picture I just texted him with some inspirational quote by Rumi, read it? He can’t. And why not? He says because he doesn’t want to give me hope that things are going to work out for us. He says that he needs me to know that our relationship is over. Until he calls to talk for 2 hours about why he’s upset, when he needs support. And I can’t. When I don’t give in, when I refuse to be a part of the cycle any longer, I’m the one being unsupportive. When I don’t have any more energy to hear about school because I’m trying to figure out how to earn money during my holiday furlough to cover all my expenses, I’m being the selfish one.

I’ve come to realize that it isn’t the Narcissism we have always thought of. Shiva isn’t in love with himself. He isn’t self obsessed because he wants to be. He’s reaching out. He is scared about his grades, scared about what’s going to happen when school runs out. He’s scared about his long term love life, for whatever reason he’s not with his love but he wants to be. He doesn’t think he deserves the person he loves and that speaks volumes about how he sees himself. Undeserving, unworthy, pathetic, sorry. And that’s why I hear “I’m sorry’s” whenever I bother to answer the phone. I do love him, I do long for the moment when we are together again. I feel sure that all of this sadness could just be put away if we’d stop denying each other our love. But I just can’t keep dedicating 115 minutes a day to Shiva while he’ll reluctantly donate 5 minutes a day to me. “Whatever happened to unconditional love?” I suppose it drowned with Narcissus and the view that he did so truly love himself. All I see in Shiva is over scrutiny of his tiny flaws, which turns them into massive ones. And I do love myself, I don’t want to spend my time feeling sad over my loss, but is it the love for myself that leads to the loss of my love?

Am I so focused on what I can and can’t do, that I have become the reflection I can’t stand to see? We are all mirrors of each other and our soulmate, the mirror upon which we can’t take away our gaze. The person who reflects everything we ever hope to be and everything we hate to be, the truest reflection necessary for growth. Is he the narcissist or am I? We both are, because we both are the reflections the other’s gaze is trapped in.
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Because we have pure minds.

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That is the line that sticks with me from this experience. It is no news that I believe we all have a destiny and that we all choose how to live it out. Like those electrons in experiments in labs, all a cloud of potential, but only finding one place to be. And that is how we came to be where we were a few days ago.
Shiva has been sensitive about maintaining distance between his family and I for some time. Even after introducing us, he still aims to maintain this distance. And so, we have. One curious exception is in the case of Shiva’s sister. We often run into each other. We haven’t had much time to talk, as we usually attempt to observe respect for Shiva’s limits, but I feel closely connected to her.
Upon our last meeting, she said that because Shiva had requested that we refuse all contact with each other that she could no longer communicate with me. There was one caveat to this…unless the universe intervenes again.
It was bound to happen, I suppose. It would seem that living in a large metropolitan area of more than half a million people, I would find it strange to run into the same person over and over. Yet, here we were, standing on the same station platform and meeting eyes. We boarded the same bus, heading for the same stop. Both equally stunned by the synchronicity  we just enjoyed the opportunity granted to us to catch up on each other’s lives. And as we were talking, we were even more shocked to discover another close friend of Shiva’s riding in the seat across from us. She isn’t just a close friend, she’s practically family, having known Shiva’s parents since before he was born and being with his parents when news reached them of our relationship. She was also heading to the same part of town.
I still have not figured out the meaning of the coincidence, if not only to reintroduce us to each other. We don’t always understand why the universe does things. However, I like to believe as Shiva’s sister does, that its “because we have pure minds.”

Pharkaunu

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Pharkaunu translates as to return or to come back. I suppose that is a fitting title for my returning post. I’ve been absent for a couple of months, mostly because of a dose of heartbreak and the simultaneous injection of extra work that came around the same time.

First of all, Shiva has taken off back East. I suppose I should be glad that when I say East, I’m referring to the Eastern coast of the US and not all the way back to Nepal, but really I’m just bummed that he’s gone. He got a scholarship deal he couldn’t pass up and in less than a month of telling me about it, he packed up all but the two boxes still at my place and jumped on a one way plane flight. Plenty of tears, him, my daughter, me…its been hard. We talk most every day for hours at a time and still support each other emotionally, but there is something about going to sleep every night far away from your love that is painful.
My little one is very upset. She spends much of her time lamenting Shiva’s absence and the new default cry for when she isn’t getting her way is “I want Shiva back.” Thankfully, he is respecting his roll in her life to the greatest degree he ever has. When he calls and she wants to talk he has meaningful loving conversations with her. When she is sobbing for him and refuses to eat or even get off the floor, he takes the call and calms her down and explains that he still loves her, but that he has to go to school. For some reason, she just needs to hear this from him. I couldn’t be any happier that he’s owning up to fulfilling the emotional needs she has developed for him.
At first I was really mad at him and slowly that anger turned to the sense of emptiness that I now feel. If I knew he was coming back, the pain would be less, but he promises never to return. He says he hated it here and is so glad he left. I’m not sure if its the optimist in me or the idiot that sits back and says, “he’s fickle, he’ll change his mind.” Maybe its both.
And as though the Universe was aware that this situation was going to be taxing, it felt necessary to throw on to me the additional work load that doubled the number of hours I spend working each week. Perhaps this is a gift in covering for the loss of Shiva’s financial support or maybe its a way for us all to take our mind off the pain. But it feels like just another test, another way for the Universe to remind me that I am capable of more than I want to be. A test to remind me that there are those things out of my control and that acceptance is the only path to peace. Perhaps its the anchor tying me down enough that I can’t follow Shiva across the country again because the Universe knows that isn’t the right path for me.
All I know is that for a few moments since August, I can breathe and welcome my return to normalcy.

Parent’s Gift: Explained

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I had once typed the explanation of the symbols in my welcoming gift for Shiva’s parents and wordpress did not keep the text. So here we go again *crosses fingers*.

The dish is actually a “Seder plate” used in Jewish Passover celebrations. I selected it because until Shiva’s father, his family was known for their dish making skills. Of course their specialty was centered in brass and not ceramic. I chose the symbols in part due to religious reasons, but definitely confused the family when I presented only a handful of the Eight Auspicious Symbols of Buddhism and a set of lotus blossoms that seemed to not fit in. As much as it may have seemed a discontinuous work of art, the family welcomed it and Shiva’s mother explained that she couldn’t bear to eat off it and intended to hang it in their home back in Kathmandu. I told her she was welcome to do what she wished, but that I had chosen paints that were safe for eating. I was delighted to hear that they ate breakfast off of this plate the very next morning.

Either used for decoration or for eating, the meaning of the symbols remain the same. The flowers around the rim are Rhododendrons, the Nepali national flower. In the center, a Dharma wheel. Surrounding the Dharma wheel are three of the Eight Auspicious signs.   One is a conch shell a sign of Buddha and the Brahmin caste. It is a right turning conch, considered especially rare and represents the movement of the stars, moon, and sun. Also, a white conch swirling to the right can make a sound calling for Dharma to awaken beings out of ignorance. Cuts of this shell are sometimes called “Shiva shells” although the conch is typically a symbol that represents Vishnu. I wear a Shiva shell that Shiva gave me to me a year and a half ago, it seemed like a significant symbol in our life. Another symbol is the endless knot. Also present in the cloth given to Shiva’s parents in their parting, the endless knot represents the interconnection of everything. When included as a gift it is thought to be a bringer of righteous karma. The two fish are at the top in yellow and are difficult to see. This is somewhat a part of myself that I integrated into the artwork. I am a Pisces and represented by two fish. I did not use the traditional Piscean symbol of two fish swimming in opposite directions, but used the Auspicious symbol to represent no fear. At the time that I made this dish, Shiva’s family was not certain of how they would accept or not accept me into their family. I was told that they were especially fearful of gossip and slander. I hoped to embed this gift with a sense of fearlessness. The remaining symbols are all different representations of the lotus. The blue lotus representing wisdom and knowledge. Shiva’s father’s birthday often coincides with a goddess of wisdom and both of his parents have really encouraged Shiva to seek a wise path. The red lotus represents love and compassion, something I had hoped they could appreciate that Shiva and I share. The white lotus represents purity, both spiritual and mental.

I was unable to share the entire meaning with his parents as they were so excited with their gifts, I barely had a chance to explain them. I was delighted to learn that the very next meal they ate after receiving this gift was eaten on this plate. I couldn’t be more thrilled about how the gifts were received.

A Parting Gift for the Parents

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This photo is of the parting gift I presented to Shiva’s parents at our meeting. His mother stroked it over and over and proclaimed, “I am going to show everyone what Shiva’s friend has made for us. What is cropped out of this photo is the very identifying last name that I wrote in Devanagri at the top. As I explained to Shiva’s parents, this is a blessing art. My great-grandmother used to make them and there are still some hanging in her home after her passing. She typically used a family’s coat of arms. I know that Shiva’s family has a mandala, but it is my understanding that it is erased every year and I didn’t know how to get a copy of one, even if I had wanted to. So I just created my own blessing image for them. The tree represents their family tree. The roots are almost hidden by the water. I explained that the blessing hopes for their family tree to be nourished with the best and in the center of the nourishing river is Dharma, which I also hope is good for the family. Within the leaves is the sign of infinity, hoping for a continuous life for the tree. Within the trunk is the eternal knot. This symbol present in both Shiva’s religion and my Celtic background is to represent the intertwined nature we share and also another prayer for eternal strength of the family tree.
Next time, I will use wool threads as Shiva’s mother seemed disappointed that the threads were made of cotton. Also, I hope that by the time I can give them another gift, my Devanagri has improved as a made a minor and amusing spelling mistake with regard to their last name. Of course, as parents will praise a youngster for invented spelling, so Shiva’s parents praised me for my self-taught Nepali writing.


This is a small example of a couple of letters I embroidered.

Labels, Labels, Labels

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“Don’t you use gmail labels to organize your life?” 

Seriously, is that even an argument? Sometimes, I think Shiva is completely incapable of having a conversation. I love him to the end of the universe and back, but his brain operates in such different ways than mine does! 

We were discussing the issue I have with his labels. Basically, for the first 9 months that we were together, I wasn’t his “girlfriend.” I don’t know what I was, or what we were doing, but everyone and their brother and their cousin, and their cousins best friend would have called it “dating”. We lived together, went everywhere together, ate together, bathed together, SLEPT together…you get the point. Anyway, it took him nine months of that behavior (after three months of hours long intimate conversations in my kitchen), to label me, “girlfriend”. 
That lasted for all of a few months before he was “breaking up” with me because of the situation with his parents and all the tantrums his father is apparently so good at throwing and I became, “ex-girlfriend.” In that time, I moved my entire life to be with Shiva and then we were back to my “pre-girlfriend” status of doing everything together, including living together AGAIN.” Of course, he would remind me that we were not “dating”. My answer remained as much as ever, “a duck is a duck, regardless of what you call it.” That status lasted until literally about an hour before his parent’s plane touched ground in the US and in that time he rushed most of his belongings to his sibling’s place under the pretense that he’s been living with his sibling the whole time he was actually living with me. 
During this time, my label has undulated between “ex-girlfriend” and “good friend.” Today, I earned the label, “best friend”. This conversation arose during Shiva’s attempt at explaining that although he had said I could meet his parents, now he just couldn’t make that happen and I was explaining that my promise (ultimatum for some who prefer that label) to vacate myself from his life should he continue to act in ways that illustrate a preference for my invisibility to the people that matter most still stood. That’s right, Shiva. I meant what I said, when I told you that if they go back home to Nepal and I do not meet them, I will no longer be your “friend”, “girlfriend”, “ex-girlfriend”, “roommate”…I will be NOTHING, because I will not be in your life, at all. 
It isn’t that I want to be out of his life, but I’ve been vacillating from one label to another for almost two years and I’m really over it  If I matter, then I matter and if I don’t, then let me go. He kept saying that he can never truly be with me, never marry me, never give me what I want because he can never take on the label of “step-father”. Okay, but when pressed, he lacks a definition for his label. He says he isn’t ready to be a “step-father” now and that is fine, but when did I ask that of him? I asked him to have the same relationship with my daughter that he has always had, which has been a positive loving one up until now. But he just can’t move past the labels. 
He kept telling me about how I’m not “Asian” and all of the “Asians” he knows understand what he means. That’s right Shiva, keep going with the labels, I wasn’t Asian when you met me, I never will be, this isn’t new news, but somehow is an important label to mention I lack. But then he actually argues that he doesn’t want to have his life without me. His argument against my label of “nothing” is that I’m actually his “best friend.” What does that mean?
Shiva’s definition of best friend is apparently, “girl that loves me with all she can and does anything for me. She also brightens my world with her sentences that are a mix of Nepali, Newari, and Hindi, her ability to sing along to soundtracks from Dil To Pagal Hai, Dil Se, and Veer Zara. He then went on to tell me that I I’m the most fun to argue with and he doesn’t know what to do with me.” (Didn’t he just finish telling me that he doesn’t know what to do without me either?) He hugs me and holds my hand and leans in close and looks deep into my eyes and all I want is to label him a self-deceiver. Shiva, my love, these are not the actions of a “best friend” these are the actions of a “lover”. So, while we are at this junction discussing labels, lets start applying them realistically. 
ps- We are still on for meeting the parents once he realized that it was still either he’s in or out on this one and I wasn’t wavering. As for what label he’s going to provide to the parents, we’ll just to have to see.  

He Said Yes!

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Ok, so I didn’t ask him to marry me and he flat out says this doesn’t mean we will get married. But Shiva did call me tonight to tell me that he has decided to introduce his parents and I. He told me over and over not to get my hopes up, and I don’t know that I am. If anything, I’m panicking a little.
He hasn’t told his father yet, but he asked his mom about it and says if anything, she is “indifferent.” I’m being given somewhere in the way of two weeks before we meet. Shiva’s plead, “Exercise profusely and get a nice tan on your vacation.” I don’t know how to take that, as if turning my yellow skin, golden could help much, I’ll never look brown, no matter how tan I get. And the sun will only turn my golden hair even closer to white.
But, I don’t care about any of that. I am just so happy to be meeting them. Had to share. Now to jump up the Nepali practice. Any advice is welcome 🙂

Speechless

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I’ve been absent a lot lately, mostly due to the fact that Shiva and I were back living together and our spare time was shared among each other. Then, literally hours before his parent’s plane landed, he took the bare essentials with him and moved to his sibling’s home. 

We’ve had more than a fair share of disagreements, maybe even an argument or two on the subject of meeting his parents. He says that there is no point because they will never approve a marriage and he doesn’t feel comfortable with jumping straight into parenthood so marriage isn’t what he wants either. All he can say is that I am a good friend, and you don’t just introduce your parents to every good “friend” that also happens to be a girl you’ve lived with on and off over a year and with whom you had a serious relationship…serious enough to prompt a cross-country move. I’m still not okay with this end. I cannot make him introduce us, but I know that I cannot keep doing this if he isn’t even going to bother giving a face, a name, a person to the collection of stereotypes that his parents hold about me.

I helped plan the sibling’s graduation/parents welcoming/american and nepali family reunion party  that Shiva hosted recently. I found the venue, helped pick the menu, negotiated the price, and drove Shiva, child, and I all around for a week to visit all the contenders for the event and spent even more hours than that discussing the pros and cons of each, doing financial analysis of each, etc. What an exhausting time! And I loved doing that for him and his family. It mattered to me that they had exactly what they wanted and I had a lot more experience than Shiva at planning parties for large groups, so it seemed natural to help him. I wasn’t invited and that went without saying. What really got me was that he wouldn’t even tell his sibling who is well aware of our “true” situation that I had such a role in planning this event. I just wanted the sibling to know, and he wouldn’t even agree to that. 
Since “moving out” he’s had a sneak dinner with child and I while he was really somewhere else as far as his family knew. He calls really late at night as he whispers while hiding under his covers so that his family (also staying at sibling’s home) do not hear his late night check-ins with me. I want to be understanding and I think I have been so far. But I just want to meet them. My words to him only the night before last…”I just want to look them in the eyes.”

Enter the Universe: ever the joker. Last night I got exactly what I asked for, just not in the way I ever imagined it would happen. I was outside with my daughter on our apartment balcony that oversees our courtyard. And without explanation she bolts down the stairs and heads straight for the sidewalk. There were two walkers coming down the sidewalk and I barely noticed anything than there were two people. I got her to stop right as we reached the steps from our courtyard to the sidewalk. I looked up from my daughter and was staring directly into Shiva’s mother’s eyes.

Even if I’d never seen pictures of them, I would have known exactly who she was. I could see his eyes in her so clearly that it shocked me for a moment before I could even take in her whole face. I saw his sibling in her as well. Then I looked at her partner, exactly as I’ve seen his father pictured, including the same jacket, it was like looking at an older balding Shiva with different eyes. I only glanced at his father a second as his mother was staring at me with her mouth open. 

After a moment that lasted far too long to accurately count, his father began to leave. But his mother just stood there. She would break eye contact only long enough to glance at my daughter and then straight back to my eyes. I wanted to speak, but I couldn’t. I wanted to stand up and offer my hand, but I couldn’t. We just stood there, looking at each other, speechless. My daughter pulling on me, Shiva’s father pulling on her, and we couldn’t break the trance we found ourselves in. Finally, I looked down, I don’t think I took a single breath the whole time we were staring. She kept on with Shiva’s father and I stood to look after them. She turned and looked at me 3 times before they were out of view.

The anxiety had taken all my sense away, It took the ability to think, or speak. My daughter grabbed my hands and only snapped me back to awareness by performing a backflip with my assistance. I finally could breath again and just played with my little one, still reeling from the encounter. Then I saw her eyes again. They had turned around and were walking by again. His father was smiling, with the same pursed lips Shiva has when he smirks at me. I smiled back, wondering if he’d be smiling at me if he knew who I was or if he was smiling at me because he knew who I was. I was wearing a university shirt and wondering if they noticed the connection between my university hometown and Shiva.  His mother was frowning but not in a sad or angry way, I couldn’t place the emotion. But she just held eye contact with me as she walked along with Shiva’s father. 

I didn’t say anything. I still can’t believe it. I can’t believed I look right at them and couldn’t say a word. The gift I made them ages ago resting only a flight of stairs away, us only a handshake away and a few words away from meeting. And there she and I stood, both hypnotized by the other, and speechless.  

Because I Can’t Say

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Such a pathetic mess I am, to sit here crying for what I do not have.
Who I am to find this such a reasonable reason to cry?

Get up, move on, get over that man, he never deserved the devotion anyway.
All the logic doesn’t seem to negate, the feelings of pain that well up within me.
And if he knew, he’d just say that it isn’t real and that its okay, I’ll feel better about it someday.

Everyone can say the same, that its just a short untimely phase
of life that soon I’ll pass through unscathed.
But all I know is in this moment, I’m desperate for some faith.
That I moved to follow, move to be together
that I left my world behind in search of another
that I really do believe that the right choice was made
only to be deserted at this stage.

And even though its wrong, to wish ill on someone else, I hope he’s suffering in this moment in the way my heart is sinking.
I hope he’s crying too and realizing that his actions aren’t without their wrongs. And when my daughter wakes up in the morning and asks if we can see him again, I hope he’s hearing her words in his head knowing that I can understand, I can justify, I can comprehend why we’ve been denied.
But she only knows the man she loves and cares for, the man she looked up to and called daddy, must be hiding in a place so we can find.

How do I tell her that its not hide and seek, that he isn’t calling tonight, that we won’t be sharing dinner, or reading her bedtime stories together. That now its just her and I because the man we both loved is gone. How do I tell her that because she’s not his blood he doesn’t want her? That because she wasn’t born to him, he’ll never love her?

How do I look her in the eyes knowing full well that she wants to hear me say, “we are going to drive and see him, he’s coming home tonight, we need to get dinner ready and clean up because he’s coming home.” In her whole life, he’s the most she had for a father to love her and now he’s gone.

I can hold it together just long enough for her to say, “Mommy, I KNOW that today he’s coming home.” And then I sit here crying and feeling sorry for our life, feeling sad that I believed that finally we were blessed, that we’d be a family, and know how to be happy. Now I sit here crying because I know that all we’d believed in was a lie.