“Hope deferred makes the heart sick …” Proverbs 13:12

From a young age, my second son, Brett, was positively charming. She had an infectious smile that could light up a room, bright, dancing eyes, and a playful, charming, and sensitive disposition. That is the image of Brett that I prefer to remember.

But as the years passed and my marriage began to unravel under the weight of abuse, neglect, and drug and alcohol abuse, I watched my happy, fun-loving Brett begin to retire. The slow progression over time transformed Brett from his cheerful, fun-loving self to a surly, introverted young man. Brett struggled in school, spent long hours alone in his room, comforted himself with junk food, or escaped the stress of our home life by immersing himself in movies and video games.

I have to shamefully admit that I was too preoccupied with survival, believing that my prayers and fidelity would eventually restore our family, to see what was happening around me. My life revolved around a hostile and unpredictable husband as I continued to do what I had been told to do. I continually prayed for the father of our children and believed that I could single-handedly improvise a sense of normalcy in our home despite my husband’s endless demands and terrifying outbursts. I convinced myself that I could protect our children from what was really going on in our home.

How wrong I was. Our family’s rapid descent into chaos began when Brett was about 6 years old. And in the years that followed, my sweet Brett lived in a silent and separate world, cruelly held captive in a personal prison defined by loneliness and fear. For the most part, he kept to himself, trying to live under the radar, trusting anyone for fear of being ridiculed for his feelings and hiding from the risk of further rejection.

After our separation when Brett was 9 years old, Brett saw his father suddenly take on a new role, that of the father of Disneyland, the adult weekend playmate. And Brett believed that now he could have the relationship with his father that he always dreamed possible. Although Brett’s father would drop just about anything to spend time with Brett’s older brother, Kyle (the favorite among the four siblings), when it was Brett’s turn to spend a day or a weekend with his father, punctuality and her father’s interest seemed to waver. .

On the days his father was scheduled to pick him up, Brett sat stoically in the front room window, eager to see his father’s car pull up in the driveway. But very often his father was late or did not show up at all. The minutes passed slowly and sometimes an hour or more would pass after the agreed time before the phone rang. On a few occasions, Brett’s father would call and say he was going to be late, and Brett graciously agreed to wait. But then his father might call back long after the new scheduled time and say he wouldn’t do it after all. He could see Brett’s face drop at the news, and he wanted to pick up the phone and let this man have it.

Sometimes her father didn’t show up or call. And yet, with each new opportunity to spend time with his father, Brett returned to the window once more, eagerly waiting, waiting, believing. I would see him there, and as the minutes or hours passed, I knew I was witnessing his heart break, mine breaking along with his.

“Brett, you don’t have to do this,” I would tell him. “How about I call your dad and tell him you’ve made other plans? You and I can go out together,” he offered. But Brett’s hope was adamant. “No, Mom,” he would say, “it’s coming. I know it’s coming.”

However, time and time again, his father did not come. As I cleaned, washed clothes, and cooked, I stopped by to see Brett in his lonely place, totally committed to the possibility of spending meaningful time between father and son. And my soul wavered between two consuming emotions: overwhelming sadness and a burning anger towards the man who would keep his young son waiting at the window, the son who was hungry for the slightest measure of his attention and affection only to stare out. . Our lonely street over and over

On the occasions when his father would come, Brett would jump from his place at the window and charge for the door, a hopeful light in his eyes. He knew he believed that maybe this would be the day his father would reach out to him. Maybe this day they would connect, laugh, talk and be close. Their time together would be everything it was meant to be, everything he ever wanted. His time would be special, memorable, perfect.

That day never came.

Even when they were spending time together, Brett’s father didn’t look for ways to connect with him or ask him about his life or interests. And often Brett would come home, and the look he used was almost always dejected or disappointed.

One particular day, I went to my room upstairs and found Brett sitting on his stool in front of the sliding glass door that opened onto our street, waiting as he had done so many times before. When I walked in, the agonized look on his face stopped me in my tracks. It was a look that defied words: the look of utter despair in the eyes of an 11-year-old boy, the look of the son of a father who had lost all hope, had finally given up. “What happen dear?” Asked. Her hazel eyes met mine from across the room, and when tears began to run down her cheeks, the words were spoken so softly and naturally that I felt sick.

“Daddy doesn’t love me,” he almost whispered. And with that heartbreaking phrase, I quickly approached him and held his little body against mine. Brett clung to me and cried and poured out all the heartache that he had been carrying alone, as my heart broke for my little boy who should never have known such pain. All the patience, hope, and forgiveness she had offered, the confident certainty that one day she would find all the love and acceptance she longed to receive from her father collapsed under the weight of years of unimaginable rejection.

Not long after Brett’s father stopped inviting him to spend time with him altogether.

Even these ten years later, Brett’s wounds remain. A couple of years ago, during an open discussion with his brother and sisters about their collective history, Brett revealed to his brother and sisters that his heart still aches from the love and acceptance he never received from his father. They reminded him how patiently he used to wait at the window, and he replied how he felt, even all these years later, he’s still waiting there, waiting at the window, wondering if his father will ever really miss him, come on. for him.

This mother’s heart breaks for her son and I carry a huge burden of guilt for his pain. They encouraged me to do whatever it takes to support my “whole” family. But we were not complete. We were devastated and abused and lived in a house filled with daily confusion and fear. My once happy and outgoing son suffered from it and is still reeling from my stupid lack of understanding. So yeah, I blame myself.

I know that God can heal Brett, and I pray that God will use even those very dark memories in his life, and mine, to reach out to others, to give him a heart of compassion for those in equally lonely and painful situations. And I pray that Brett will become the kind of father he always wanted to have.

But I can tell you that, knowing what I know now and seeing the collective magnitude of pain my children endured, if I had to do it again, I would have left that toxic and abusive environment long before I gave Brett … and Kyle, Talk. and Amberly, something that is now too late to give them, a happy childhood. But I will never be able to pay that debt; I can never get it right.

There are those who tell us that children are resistant, that they have a unique ability to overcome that type of pain. I think it’s a feeling meant to free us from the burden of acknowledging how deeply they have really been hurt. I also think that if I had known then what I know now, I would have gone with my children long before I did. I would have worked overtime to train them to recognize what is right and true, to instill in them a sense of their own worth from an early age, and I would have gone out of my way to ensure that their home was a place where they would hope to find the greatest measure of stability. , security and acceptance that could offer them.

Everyone told me that as long as he didn’t hit me, I had to stay.

They were wrong.

Don’t listen to those people. If you are in an abusive environment, you don’t have to stay. And you shouldn’t.

I do not wish anyone this deep regret.

Cindy burrell
Copyright 2013
All rights reserved

Waiting at the window

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