When Elle left Dick’s house almost two years ago, my initial thought was this is temporary. This isn’t Dick, he’s got a drinking problem, he’ll get help and this nightmare will be over.
I was out of town and had called to check-in with Elle. I cried as Elle told me what had happened from the bathroom stall of a local restaurant. The first thing I said is “This isn’t your Dad; this is a person with a substance abuse problem.” Second, why are you in the bathroom of a restaurant telling me this? Elle said “Malus doesn’t want me to tell you or anybody else what happened. I’m supposed to keep it a secret.”
And right there was the biggest problem not only for my child, but for her Dad. The person closest to Dick was not only enabling him but covering and pretending he didn’t have a drinking problem and asking my daughter to do the same. What other secrets had she guilted my child into keeping for her?
When I talked to Malus she said, “Dick is out of sorts. He doesn’t mean it.” I said “I don’t care whether he means it or not. I DO NOT WANT ELLE ANYWHERE NEAR DICK!” She promised to keep Elle far away from Dick. Instead, she took Elle back to the house, insisting she fix things with a very intoxicated Dad.
The result: Dick throwing Elle out of her home.
Following Elle over to Dick’s house that day I felt an overwhelming sadness. I had always envisioned this day would come, but she would be going for a visit with her clean and sober Dad. Instead we were going to pack up her special things in an empty house. The last memory she will have of the home she shared with her Dad will be of anger, fear and hurt. It breaks my heart.
Little Hart joined us. She offered to be the enforcer (she’s 4’11” and 98 pounds). Instead she became our comic relief. When we arrived Elle asked Little Hart to hold her hand and walk through the front door together. Dick was not there as promised. He had texted me to let us know that he would be gone until after 9:00 p.m. so that Elle could take her time.
Before I knew it, Little Hart had Elle laughing hysterically. They found Elle’s journal about her make-believe friend, Bob. A “please read me letter” to American Idol producers wanting my brother Scott’s lyrics to be used in their Finale.
Little Hart being the hoarder wanted Elle to take everything! Me? I just wanted her take the things important to her. In the end a compromise! Elle didn’t take any items that Malus had given her; she didn’t want to bring her negative energy into our home.
At one point I looked over and saw Elle sitting in the middle of her bedroom floor looking through old pictures, taking the ones of her and Dick (two years earlier she was ripping pictures of Dick into tiny little pieces). Elle found the present she had intended to give Dick on his birthday before she left. She wrote him a thank you note and left the gift, a figurine entitled “Daddy’s Girl.”
After four hours, Elle and I made her last walk through of the house she spent half of her life. We sat on her bed and hugged for 10 minutes. Then we left, closing the house door behind us for the last time.