Monday, December 23, 2013

The Story of My Son's Father.

Why am I sharing this now?  I know that I have written bits and pieces since I started this blog.  I have never wanted to share this story publicly before because I think I am ashamed of it.  Usually when I share my experience with people, I hear this, "How were you with someone like that?"  Not everyone has reacted that way, but there have been enough people say that to me, that it has prevented me from sharing.  I have not been through half the battle that women of physical abuse have gone through and that one question has prevented me from sharing my story.  Feeling ashamed is the only feeling that I have in common with other victims of relationship abuse.  I have always applauded the women who have been able to rise above the judgement of others to share their story.  To really tell people how they still loved their abuser without even understanding it themselves.  Because of the recent information I have found out about RP's dad, I am feeling more empowered.  I am feeling less ashamed.  I am ready to have as much of this out of me; to stop carrying it inside of me.  I am sharing this now.

Some of you know this story.  Some of you don’t.  A lot of the time I forget that this is memory of actual life and not just simply a story.  It is hard to believe that I was who I was back then.  It is hard for me to believe that I loved his father so deeply that I thought I would be with him forever.  It is hard for me to know that I was in a relationship that kept me so sad and insecure.  That I believed the apologies and promises from an alcoholic.  That I was in a position where I hit first because I thought I was going to get hit.  That I could have fallen for all the tricks that I have learned about in every substance abuse class and domestic violence class that I had ever taken.  That I-an intelligent, independent, feminist-would have succumbed to being in such a relationship.

We met in high school.  I don’t know why, but I decided that I was going to love him forever.  That he was my high school sweetheart that would stick.  My parents met in high school and I wanted to have that same kind of story.  For me, at 17, that was normal.  That is how it happened.  I was told that I was “the best thing” to have happened to him.  His family loved me immediately.  They welcomed me.  His mom would talk to me like we were equals.  I had “a good head on my shoulders,” and “made his life better.”  To a girl, who was just outside the mainstream of her community, who was still angry about her parent’s divorce and who desperately needed love as validation, this was crack.  I was immediately addicted.  It was the perfect storm of hearing all of those types of words from him, his family, and our personalities connecting.  Crack.  I didn't know who I was.  I had a glimmer of who I wanted to become and the person they were making me out to be sounded fucking great.

Then we broke up.  6 months into it.  He chose drugs over me.  You would think this was a clue.  It was a terrible blow.  I was devastated.  I would still talk to his mom.  Absolutely devastated.  And then, like every teenage movie, he called me one night.  He missed me.  He still loved me.  He was stupid.  He was sorry.  He wanted me back.  Crack. Crack. Crack. Crack.  I was sucked back into the habit in a matter of hours.  Oh I forgot to mention the other thing about him that made me sure that I was going to better his life.  He had no father.  His dad left his family before he was born.  They met twice and then his father died when he was seven.  Talk about a tragic story that sucks you in to want to be the person that helps the other person prevail in life!  He told me he never wanted to be like his dad and that he would do ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING for his future children.  That he wanted to be the dad that he never had.  Crack. 

So we were back together.  Shortly there after, his family moved from my home town back to an area of Ohio that was more familiar to them.  It is an area of Ohio that I cannot travel to.  His family is huge.  I know that I would run into someone.  But anyway, so our relationship was more romantically tragic at that point.  My high school boyfriend lived 45 minutes away.  I was already different than a lot of the kids I went to school with and I felt different from them.  But now I had a different kind of relationship.  I loved it.  I graduated high school and he still had a year left.  He would visit me at the University of Cincinnati.  It was great.  Then we decided that he would move to Cincinnati and live with me during my second year of college and his first year out of high school.  I would love to say that I regret this decision.  I know that my life would have been dramatically different if he and I had not lived together this early and this young or at all.  It isn't just for the sake of RP’s existence that I don’t regret it, but I do believe that who I am today is a result of the course of that relationship.  Did I deserve to be treated that way?  No.  But I am stronger for it.

Living together was beautiful, a dream come true-for a while.  He worked at Metro making decent money, had health care, and future possibilities.  I was going to college to become a teacher.  We were going to move back to the country of Ohio where he was raised.  It was a lovely idea, plan, future we talked about together and could have been attainable.  But then he quit his job.  I didn't even know for weeks.  He still got up and went to “work.”  Who knows what he was doing.  There was a long lapse of time without a job.  He started to “disappear” during this time.  It was usually on for a day though.  I stated working full time while in college to help with his share of the bills.  When I look back, I think this is when I started to alienate my family.  Telling them less and less information about my life with him.  Then he moved to Illinois to work with a friend of ours from high school.  This only last about 4 months before he was back in Cincinnati.  There were many more disappearing acts performed when he would go visit the country and his buddies.  A multiple day span went by without a word.  When he finally called, I told him to stay away.  About a month later he totaled a car.  He called.  He apologized.  Said he could live without me.  His mom called and apologized.  He loved me.  I was the best thing that happened to him.  The stress of our relationship was tolling even at this point.  But I still loved him.  I was still committed to him.  So he came home.  He supposedly hit a deer with the car, took the plates, and left it on the side of the road.  I think that was not a truthful story.  I know now that part of the reason that I took him back so quickly during this round was due to the fact that I made out with someone at a Halloween party.  I felt guilty for this betrayal….even though we were not together at the time.

The timeline of our relationship is fuzzy from this point until my pregnancy.  There were many weeks of not knowing where he was.  There was an engagement that ended when the Cincinnati Police called to talk to me about the ring.  Yes.  It was stolen.  There was another accident that totaled my dad’s car.  There were the phone calls he would get from other girls.  There was the criticizing me and my beliefs, my independence, my want to strive for a better future.  There were apologies and promises to change.  It was up and down constantly.  It was never just going.  I was done.  I had enough.  My roommates and I were all moving out of the 3 bedroom house we had rented for two years.  I picked the one bedroom.  He didn't show up to see it. I signed the lease without him.  I put the deposit down.  I figured out the help to move.  But I couldn't pull the trigger to end the relationship.  I knew it was bad.  I knew I didn't feel the same about him. I knew that I wanted to be with someone else.  I knew all of that yet, we lived there together.  It was 2 months into our lease when I found out I was pregnant.  This is when I forgave him.  I let go of all of the bad things that had happened before because I believed that it would change because we were having a baby.  I believed that he was going to be different because he had shown me so much passion when he talked about how he was going to be the dad that he never had.

My pregnancy was another rough patch.  At Christmas that year, I wanted to announce it to my family.  He “was stuck” in the snow on Christmas Eve at work in Wilmington and couldn't make it to the big party to help me announce it.  I did that alone.  He showed up at the other party later that night.  Drunk.  He had chosen drinking over me and our baby.  But he apologized and I had forgiven him for all of his past sins, so I added this one to the list.  Then there was the time that he forgot to pick me up from my mom’s because he had been drinking.  He finally made it and refused to let me drive.  He decided to race a guy and go up on the curb to get around the other guy.  Two flat tires later we were stranded in Dayton.  I could have called my family, but I was too ashamed and they did not know how bad it was.  When I drive past that intersection, still today, I notice how close he was to running his car into a light pole.  Then there was the time that he was drunk and yelling at me.  He got in my face and I punched him.  I don’t know that he was going to hit me, but he was bigger than me.  Then, the night before my due date, I couldn't get a hold of him.  He finally called and was drunk and had a flat tire in Lebanon.  He supposedly drove all the way from Lebanon on his rim.  He and his friend came in at about 4 and the other guy had to be back in Wilmington by 8 for work.  They were still drunk when they woke up.  I refused to let him borrow my brand new (to me) car that my family had helped me purchase for the baby.  So I drove.  Then, at a gas station we stopped at so that I could use the restroom, I slipped and fell.  Nothing bad happened to the baby I was carrying, luckily. 

Three days after RP was born, his father was fired.  My 40 hours of work while attending college full time had grown a decent amount of savings, but not enough to last.  After 2 month we had to move to Dayton and live with my mom.  Finally he found a job.  All was well.  We were working through a bad time.  I was returning to school to finish in the fall.  I had forgiven and forgotten all of his behavior from when we lived in Cincinnati.  There was so much more than I can account for.  There were so many warning signs that I ignored and so many words I ignored from my friends.  We were ok now.  We were going to make it- until he started buying beer on the way home from work.  He would chug a 40 in the mile between the convenience store and my mom’s.  We argued a lot again.  He would disappear, but not as often because he was so concerned about what my mom would think of him.  Little did he know that she was an advocate for him- not his behavior.  After 16 months of the stress hitting again, of me traveling to school in Cincinnati still and then working two days of the week to help- he borrowed my car to go to work thing in Jan 2007.  He was supposed to be back to get me from work by 5 pm.  At 8 pm I got the call that he was in an accident on 75S and my car was totaled.  My dad had to take me to District 1 where he was being held.  They asked me if I wanted to see him.  I said no.  I wrote him a note to call him mom because he wasn't coming home.  That was how the relationship ended.  Had he not been driving my beast of a Volvo station wagon, he would have killed himself and his passenger.  His friend tried to tell me how sorry he was.  How he was sobbing when he was getting arrested.  How much he loved RP and I.  I was not accepting it any longer.  It wasn't just me anymore.  I think I would have accepted it again if I didn't have Parker.  My son gave me the strength to tell him no.  I could no longer be the best thing in his life.  I had to be the best thing in Parker’s life.  I could no longer be the “head on his shoulders.”  I had tried for 7 years to help him make good decisions.  I could not try any longer.

We went for some months with congenial every-other-weekend visits and him giving me money.  Then the money trickled out and stopped.  Then the visits started getting further apart.  I had graduated but this time and was in a full time salary job.  He had stopped going to his probation officer.  He was drinking again.  My two year old told me about the time that he and daddy drove to the store.  He had no license.  He started dating a girl with a kid about RP’s age.  We did not hear from him for the duration of that relationship.  Then he called and apologized.  I subjected my son to the same cycle that I went through because I still believed that he was going to be a good dad.  The dad he never had.  I was trying to give RP two parents.  Though not together and I desperately missed being a family, I believed that RP should not be held back by the bad parts of our relationship.  Then it happened again.  For longer.  And again he apologized.  At one point he asked if he and I could started to see each other again.  I told him no.  We had been separated for about 18 months when RP and I moved back to Cincinnati.  It was August 2008.  During that fall was the last time that RP stayed the night with his dad.  We didn't hear from him until Jan 2009.  This is when he told me he was going to be a father again.  In late May he was living in the Cincinnati area again because his girlfriend was on bed rest.  We saw him 3 or 4 times at the park that late May or early June.  And then he called to cancel to tell me he had been arrested again.  The judge let him off without going to jail for the prior bench warrant since he told the sob story of his pregnant girlfriend.  He was going back out to Wilmington to find a job.  He never went back to court.

He has not seen RP since then. At one point, I think in 2009, he called me to get the zip code for the Clifton area because he was filling out medical cards for his other children.  He didn't ask about RP.  Another time he went to the place my brother in law works to buy a car stereo.  He didn't ask about RP.  We went years without hearing from him.  I filed for child support in 2008.  I still have never been to court because he has not had a residence or place of employment the state can find.  While I am not diligent about it, I call every few months.

He text me this year, as though no time has gone by; he apologized.  He said how much he cares and misses us.  He criticized me and then asked for a favor.  I think he must have been drunk.  And now, I have received a letter in the mail.  It was sent from prison.  He has found Jesus.  God has told him that he deserves a relationship with RP and I.  God has told him that the weight of being a shitty father can be lifted because he can see his mistakes now.  He is requesting communication with me and with RP and for photos and for a relationship.  He is apologizing, he is telling us he cares, and how he has God on his side now. 

I have spoken to some about RP’s dad, some witnessed our relationship, and some have never heard a word about him.  There is a lot missing from this story, like his first drug charge and his first DUI.  There is a lot I don’t remember.  Until we moved to Cincinnati in 2008, I don’t remember a lot of RP’s infancy and toddler hood.  I don’t remember a lot of my pregnancy.  I remember more of what he did and how he made me feel.  I remember finding empty beer bottles under our bed when I was moving out of my mom’s.  I remember finding the empty liquor bottles in her cabinet.  I remember telling RP that his dad still loves him even though he doesn't call.  I remember RP getting too old for the simple answers like that and wanting to know what really happened.  I remember running out of answers to give RP.  I remember RP telling people he doesn't have a dad and asking me if his last name can be the same as mine.  I remember that I am both RP’s mom and dad and how hard it has been to fill both roles.  I remember struggling financially the first year that I moved out of my mom’s.  I remember pointing out what is best for my son to his daycare and teachers.  I remember making the decision to have his tonsils and adenoids removed.  I remember everything that I had to do because his father made the decision to cut himself out of his son’s life.  An apology during a moment of feeling sorry for yourself in the name of God is not enough.  The cycle of screw ups and apologies has been cut.  I stopped responding to the cycle but subjected my child to it because I believed that it would change for RP since it didn't for me.  I will not subject  my son to that cycle again.  I will never bad mouth his father in front of him.  He will not know the raw truth of the bad time in our relationship.  I will not create hatred in my son but there is nothing that will make me assist RP to falling to victim of the same psychological abuse that took me years to over come.

I was damaged from 7 years of the up and down with him.  It started when I was at an vulnerable age.  I didn't know how to date or be single when our relationship was over.  I allowed my self to go a little party crazy after I left him.  And then when I first tried a real relationship, 2 years after that one had ended, I screwed it up.  I remember saying to that person one time, "I knew you were going to bail on me."  He had only changed plans.  In hindsight, it wasn't that big of a deal.  I was putting way too many expectations and not allowing enough room.  I thought every man I met was going to do the same things that he did to me.  Constantly leaving me in a state of confusion because of the ups and downs.  I wasn't ready when I tried to have a relationship with that person.  I believe that parts of me will always have a bit of a raw nerve to certain things from my experience with him.  I am weary of those who drink daily but I now understand the difference between someone who has alcoholism and not.  I cringe when I hear or know someone who has gotten a DUI.  I am immediately, emotionally, transported to the day he called me about totaling my car-kneeling on my mom's living room floor, hunched over, crying hysterically.  The emotion is getting less and less as the years go by, but it is still there.  I look forward to the day when those pains are not there.  Knowing that my son will live with the pain because his has no relationship with his father is the one that will never heal.  I will never be able to let that go.  He will carry that with him.  I believe that he will be loved by a step father in a powerful way.  I believe that he will love a step father and that hole in his heart will begin to be filled and he will have peace.  The older he gets, the smaller the hole will get.  One day, my son will tell his story about how his life was affected by his biological father missing from it.  He will rise above the judgments of others and not be ashamed.  His story will be more powerful than mine and showing how he healed will help others heal.  I look forward to the day that he shares it with me.

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