Tears And Broken Bonds: The Year My Daughter Left Me

I felt like the world’s biggest failure at the most important job I would ever have.

Woman watching her daughter leave with her ex satura86, alvarostock, AleksandarNakic | Canva

Victoria was only supposed to stay with Micah’s sister in Orlando for a few weeks while I got my life "straightened out." The decision was made without me when I was on my way to a psychiatric hospital and, once I got there, the plan had already been set in motion.

Before I went to the hospital in the first place, I was very close to suicide. The little cottage that Victoria and I lived in was cute, but the loneliness I felt there was unshakable.


The place was on a dirt road behind another family’s house who decided to rent the tiny cottage to me. I didn’t see my landlords very often, and pretty soon I felt like I was completely alone in the world except for Victoria.

I’d also split up from my husband, Micah, around this time. Even though I was glad to be away from him, it only added to my isolation. Add to that a severe episode of depression with constant negative thoughts in my head about myself, and that’s the state I was in when I called my best friend, Susan, and hinted that I wished killing myself would stop my pain.


Victoria was only three years old at the time. I always did what I could to make sure her needs were taken care of, but I knew it wasn’t enough.

I believed that seeing me in bed crying all day was affecting her negatively, and that belief turned into the awful certainty that she’d be better off without me in her life.

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Thankfully, Susan called the police and sent them over to check on me. The officer found me sitting on my porch and crying while Victoria played with her toys nearby. I nodded my head when he asked me if I needed help, but I told him I couldn’t go anywhere with him and leave my daughter.


"Where’s her dad?" the officer asked.

"Probably at work," I guessed. "We’re split up, but I don’t think he would take her anyway."

"He has to," the officer explained. "He’s her legal guardian."

I handed the cop a piece of paper with Micah’s number on it, my hand shaking as I passed it over. Even if Micah didn’t come, he would still be furious and yell at me later. He never acted like a real parent, although he kept saying he loved Victoria. I stopped thinking he was even capable of being a good father.

Now, I was the bad parent, and I hoped he would finally step up during this crisis.

Micah showed up in a pick-up truck that his boss was driving. He was sweaty from landscaping outside as usual. The policeman went over to talk to him, followed by Micah grabbing the suitcases I’d packed for our daughter. As he walked away, he shot me with a look of fury and disgust.


I rode in the police car shaking like a leaf, not just scared of the hospital but whether Micah would really take care of Victoria while he was with her. Any other time he "watched" her, I’d find her in the exact same place she was when I dropped her off. Most of the time, he ignored her, other than when he was using her as a pawn to get at me.

When the officer dropped me off at the hospital and left, I found out they weren’t going to admit me after all because I had no insurance. My depression was severe, but they suspected I had no money to pay them, and they were right.

I started making phone calls to everybody I knew to pick me up since I was stranded in the lobby, but I wasn’t able to reach anybody. I also called Micah and asked where and how Victoria was doing. He told me that he had dropped her off at his ex-wife’s house right after he picked her up from me. So much for stepping up as a parent.

My sole mission was getting my daughter back home.


Since I didn’t have a ride, I took two buses to get as close as possible to Micah’s ex-wife’s house. Then I walked three miles to get to her front door. I knocked as hard as I could, but nobody opened the door. People were moving around inside the house, but not one of them acknowledged me.

After knocking for fifteen minutes, I finally realized they would never let me in. I thought about calling the police since they were keeping Victoria away from me as her legal mother, but honestly, I was exhausted from walking and also from my depression. One of my friends finally called me back, and I asked if she would drive me back to the cottage where my car still sat in the driveway.

When I got home, the little cottage rooms were emptier than I’d ever seen them. There were no sounds of Victoria playing while she sang or watched TV or giggling over a joke she told herself. All I could hear was silence, but the terrible thoughts in my head kept getting louder.

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Although I hadn’t eaten all day, I went directly to bed and slept until the next morning when Micah called.

"You need time to get better, so Victoria is going to stay with my sister, Rebecca, in Orlando for a couple of weeks," he announced. At this point, I had no idea whether Micah or his ex-wife had her at that moment. He told me to meet him and his sister at his office if I wanted to say goodbye.

I could have screamed and protested, but there was no fight left in me. Maybe Micah was right, and I had no business trying to raise a child right then with my mental illness and ongoing financial problems.

I’d never been to Rebecca’s house before, but Micah had told me back when we were together that his sister lived in an upscale neighborhood in a fancy three-bedroom house. Rebecca’s kids were all grown up and gone, but she was thrilled to have a chance to take care of Victoria. She even promised to take her to Disney World, something I had never been able to achieve.


Shaking all over, I drove to Micah’s office as quickly as I could. When I pulled up to the curb, he and Rebecca were already standing outside. Victoria looked comfortable being held in Rebecca’s arms as they headed toward my car.

Holding back tears, I reached for my daughter, and Rebecca gently handed her over. I didn’t say much to any of them except to tell Victoria I was sorry and would see her again soon. Inside, I almost felt zombie-like and as if the word "crazy" was stamped on my forehead. The scowl on Micah’s face let me know how disappointed he was in me.

I cuddled Victoria a little tighter and smelled her freshly washed hair. Her soft little arms cradled me back, and my tears betrayed me and started to flow.

"It’s only a few weeks, Glenna," Rebecca said to reassure me as she switched Victoria’s car seat from my car to hers. "It’s just until you get your life straightened out."


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I felt like the world’s biggest failure at the most important job I would ever have.

Standing there on the curb, I couldn’t stand to watch as Rebecca drove away. I hoped that she and her husband would play with Victoria, sing songs to her, and give her toys and hugs and kisses. As I got back in my car, I felt completely useless to anybody in the world. I bawled the whole way home.

My two beloved sons already lived with their father, although they came to visit me for short periods once in a while. I lost them for the same reason I lost Victoria. My ex-husband took them because I couldn’t stay stable enough to care for them. Although I hated mental illness more than almost anything, hating myself proved to be even more powerful.


"Those are your ex’s kids now," Micah used to tell me. "Why don’t you concentrate on our daughter?" He lied to me about so many things, and I was not strong enough to challenge him. I knew my boys were both having wonderful lives with their dad, and I guessed Victoria was about to have the same at Rebecca’s house.

My phone started ringing the minute I walked through the cottage door. It was Micah.

"You know, you really blew it," he told me. "I’m the good one now, and everybody hates you for what you’ve done."


I hung up without saying a word. There was nothing left to say. I was already fully aware that I’d blown it, and I didn’t need him to rub it in.

For the next few days, I didn’t leave my bed or answer my phone. I couldn’t find a good reason to do either one. A few days earlier I had wished I was dead. Now, I was alive but completely dead on the inside.

My daughter, the only reason that could get me out of bed, was gone. Nobody was there to take care of me, and I had nobody to take care of anymore.

After all that time worrying about Victoria’s needs, it turned out that she really didn’t need me at all. I was the worst mother in the world, and I’d never forgive myself for not being able to hold it together even for her sake.


I knew it was a lie when Rebecca said, "A few weeks." I’m sure she realized that I wouldn’t be able to turn my mental health and finances around in such a short time. I feared that since she already had Victoria, she wouldn’t ever want to let her come back.

This is part one of a three-part series. Read part two here and part three here.

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Glenna Gill is a writer and blogger from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her articles have been featured in Scary Mommy and P.S. I Love You. When I Was Lost is her first full-length book, a memoir of love, loss, and hope.