I was watching a link on FB today about a man that bought his elderly dad a 1953 Hudson Hornet, his dream car. When asked ‘Why’d you do this for your father?’, he replied ‘Because growing up, my dad was always there for me. He stood by me, and he always believed in me.’ Then the camera pans to a photo of him sitting atop his dad’s shoulders, smiling his big 5 year old tooth-gapped grin, frozen forever in time at a car show in days gone by.
My throat tightened and I stopped the link before it was finished. This, like so many other seemingly innocuous images I see on a given day, cause a heartbreak that can’t be explained in words. My husband robbed my son of things like this. He robbed him of homework at the table while I make dinner. He stole nights from him where daddy is the only one who can make him feel better after a bad dream. He took away the mundane trip to Home Depot for a household project, or to the store for some ice cream for family movie night. He’ll never wake up and run in to join Daddy and I in bed on a Sunday. He kicked dust into the faces of these tiny people who didn’t yet have a voice to say ‘Don’t do this to me. I need you to stay and be my father. I need you to cherish and protect my mommy. I need you live with us. I need you to do the hard work.‘
I firmly believe these kids desperately need their intact family for the best shot at healthy development, cues about normality, structure, and permanence. And for the things we take for granted that, in actuality, mean everything. Like simply being able to look back at your life and say ‘my dad was always there for me.’
He is not there. And he doesn’t plan to be. He is 3,000 miles away, and he’s not coming back.
My mind cannot conceive of it. I married this person never believing that they were capable of ANY of the things that he has done. Baby girl is one and a half. She has the face of a porcelain doll. Her eyes are as big as dinner plates, and the aquamarine shade of blue in those sparkly eyes is simply mesmerizing. But she’s not just beautiful. She’s feisty. And hilarious. And silly, and lovely, and he doesn’t know this, and doesn’t appear to care to know this. To him, she is a doll. She’s an image moving around on the screen of his 10 minute iPad call once or twice a week. He can’t touch her soft blonde hair. He can’t smell her baby smell, or see how she twists her lips when she’s being silly. She can give butterfly kisses with her eyelashes. There’s no computer in the world that can replicate the warmth of having her fall asleep in your arms. And there’s no screen in the universe that could ever help her to understand how her daddy’s eyes sparkle when he leans in real close for a kiss.
That she possesses a deep, God-given need to have a daddy in the home is lost on him. He either doesn’t share that belief, or does, but doesn’t care enough for it to change his choices. Hell, even if not in the home, how about in the same time zone?! He probably assumes that the likelihood of me remarrying after a trauma of this magnitude is small. But he takes that risk anyway. What if I did, Honey? You are willing to let some other man be her live-in daddy? To be who she turns to, relies on, cries for at night, and who walks her down the aisle? Who she thinks of when she thinks about the man who raised her, and sees as the father that she could trust? Where is your pride, man? Where is your protectiveness? Where is your soul?
That I loved him and wanted to be married to him for the remainder of my days is now irrelevant. I wanted to be married to the man I believed him to be, not the man he has now shown himself to be. Yet, I would have done practically anything to keep my family together. It was destroyed before it ever really got off the ground. Short of a miracle, Honey will never realize what he has done to me and to these kids. Never.
These kids are your flesh and blood. That’s not just some platitude…they are literally constructed right from your body. I would no more harm them in the way he has than I would harm my own body. They are my flesh. They are my blood. I brought them here. WE brought them here. Why do that if you’re just going to abandon them to the world as if they mean nothing to you? And if they don’t mean nothing to you, why do your actions not reflect that truth?
I would love to be proven wrong. I would love to eat my words. I wish none of what I were saying was true. But a person’s actions belie their heart. And his heart, if it’s even in there, is first and foremost all about HIM. He has always been selfish. In matters of housework, in matters of responsibilities like errands, banking, cleaning, etc. Even in matters of sex. As selfish as they come. I got used to it, just assuming this was what it was like to be married. I guess I was more sheltered than I’d realized. But I never, ever believed he’d be so self involved that he’d harm his kids by simply extricating himself from their lives as though the consequences are…inconsequential. And, on some level in his mind, he must actually believe that his removal won’t bring harm to them. How blind, arrogant , and dead wrong he is.
To believe that they won’t come to harm, you have to be SO self deluded that the very presence of the babies you left behind makes you squirm a bit. So he avoided them. For the first 4 months, he talked to them via Skype on average every 2 weeks. Can you even imagine phoning in your job as a parent, let alone once every 2 weeks?! It’s absurd to any thinking person. But to him, this was somehow ok. Normal. He had to believe that in order to convince himself that what he’d done was not egregious, horrifying and as selfish as it gets. So he simply stayed away.
In order to do something as disturbing as move 3,000 miles away from your 1 and 2 year old babies, you have to make some new truths for yourself. It’s the only way your brain can reconcile the horrific thing you’ve done. So I believe that he, along with some very un-wise counsel from those around him, convinced himself that it’d all be fine. Divorce happens every day, so that makes it ok, right? Kids grow up without dads around every day, so that makes it ok, doesn’t it? Kids are resilient. Kids snap back from things like this. Kids can have totally happy childhoods like it never even happened, right??
Wrong. Divorce is either a) an open wound for life or b) a scar for life. What I mean to say is, either they will suffer directly from it in painful ways that directly effect their emotions, choices and actions, or they will forever be ‘getting over’ and being wary of this past hurt, and carry on the cycle of divorce into THEIR relationships. Never seeing that love/marriage relationship as a rock solid truth, but instead a shifting ‘feeling’ that you chase or move on from until you’re ‘happy’…and yet you never are. The effects of divorce are broad and wide, effecting areas of life I’m sure he’s never even considered. The trail of devastation might have been evident to him if he’d even bothered to look behind him as he fled.
And as kids, they’ll blame themselves. They’ll blame me. Everyone but him. Him, they will idolize. At least at first. They will try hard to impress and win his favor, yet never feel they have it no matter WHAT he says to them. They will go out of their way to seek acknowledgement and approval from him because of the initial and ever present feeling of rejection by him from day one. Forever. It makes me so sick to think that someone I saw as my partner, my equal in thinking on vitally important matters such as this, was nothing but a fraud.
I’m starting to understand that he morphs to accommodate what his partner likes and wants and says, until he finally realizes he doesn’t actually agree or want those things. Then it’s time to go. No warning, just gone. No fights, no disagreements, just a nod and a smile all the way up to the point when he plunges in the knife. Then, he looks again for someone outside of himself to make him ‘happy’. He morphs to their beliefs, because again, Honey CANNOT have conflict. He can’t talk about ‘negative things’. This makes the new woman in his life think (as I did) ‘Wow! We really ARE perfect for each other!’ Yet he never asserts his real opinions until he has so destroyed his ability to stifle the confrontation he’s denied himself that he needs to literally run out of the building. The cycle for him will never end. And while it’s heartbreaking in a way for me to see him so deluded about his own baggage, I have no time for pity. I have no room for it in my heart. It’s too full of my own crippling heartbreak, and the heartbreak I feel for the endless struggles he’s just handed to all three of us, as though it were nothing.
I am SO thankful the kids were not many years older. For them to witness the trauma that I endured with a full and complete understanding of the events, or to have known a daddy that was always there in the home and then one day gone. I just don’t know how I could have dealt with watching them endure that on top of my own devastation. It’s bad enough that Little Man has taken such a huge emotional hit that I didn’t expect at his young age. He has serious and legitimate daddy issues, straight out of the gate. Harmed by the one person charged to protect him, to protect me, to protect our family. He is struggling to make sense of the world around him, and this particular part of of the world has him baffled and wounded no matter how hard I try to help. Honey will never, ever know the hundreds of talks I’ve had with Little Man in response to things he’s said, just trying to let him know his daddy loves him. That he didn’t do anything wrong. That he’s safe. I keep it very simple. But he’s a very smart boy. And his anger and heartbreak are a daily struggle for him. I’ve been charged with the care of this precious little person who I love more than life itself, yet I CANNOT FIX THIS FOR HIM. The helplessness I feel is crippling. It causes a level of despair and anxiety and protectiveness that makes me want to get in the car, drive cross country to Honey’s door, and kick him squarely in his cash and prizes.
And Honey just appears…oblivious to all of this. Again, I believe that it’s by choice. Because what could he do if the truth of what he’d done hit him squarely one day? He’d have to forego the most important relationship he has on this earth, and I’m not talking about the one he has with HomeWrecker. I’m talking about the love affair he has going with himself. If he had to put himself second, that’d mean he’d have to live where his kids are. Co-parent them. Be involved. Take kids to soccer practice and dental appointments instead of sit and be lazy on the couch, or go to a bar or a concert, or spend the day talking about how amazing he is at his job or playing on his phone. He’d have to be a PARENT, and that is unfortunately the one thing that Honey is not. And I had absolutely no idea of this when I conceived these beings, so help me God. I never would have brought them into this world to be an immediate product of something as ugly and horrific and damaging as divorce. But, oh. How grateful I am that they exist. How happy I am that I was ignorant of what was coming, because they are a gift to this world, not an obstacle. None of this is their fault, and I will do everything in my power to mitigate the damage that I have some measure of control over. And the parts that I don’t? I can give a warm smile. A gentle touch. A comforting hug. And the reassurance and promise that mommy isn’t going anywhere.
Without Honey, I wouldn’t have Little Man and Baby Girl. But what a price to have to pay. Why is the price so high with so many things in life, Lord? Does it have to be so high?! I pray and I ask, but I simply can’t hear an answer on that one. But these little need-factories, these temper tantrums on wheels…these snuggly angels that just come over for a hug and a drive-by kiss…how I love them so. I would lie down in traffic for them. But I can’t help feeling, every minute of every day, the enormity of the task before me without a partner. This job is so critically important, and I don’t want to do ANYTHING to screw it up. I will do all that I can, with the full knowledge that it’s still never going to be enough because of all of this. Yet I promise to be their everything for as long as I have breath, and when I go to die, I won’t care about anything else unless I can hear my son and daughter say ‘My mom was always there for me’. I guess I should be comforted by that instead of being so deeply sad that Honey simply doesn’t share the sentiment.