Last night as I dropped off Kam at her mother’s I was left a letter on the outdoor fireplace leading up to their home. As usual, she avoided contact with me, I guess that lets her feel superior in some way. As a father, she has acknowledged my voice zero in how Kam is raised. I have always been a good whipping post to weave her web of deceit and dishonesty around. But today, I am still grateful, even if all I get is every other weekend.
The last 10 years has been a battle because of our divorce. In the beginning, I did a poor job of managing myself and my emotions and I turned more and more to alcohol to cope with the hurt and heart break that I felt. Last night would have been one of those times where I escaped in a bottle to avoid the pain. But I sat with it, all evening, still today. And to be honest, it doesn’t feel good.
even if I only get to see her every other weekend.
However, being solid in my recovery allows me to sit with it without the need for an unhealthy escape. I still don’t like it, but I can see it now for what it is. My self-worth used to be eaten away with the gaslighting I endured. Today, it is only strengthened. What I used to run from and cower down to, I now feel the courage to face and deal with. Because I am a father, a good dad, even if I only get to see her every other weekend.
I wasn’t always a decent dad. In fact, there were times I was absent and awful. I ran from everything in fear, afraid to face the difficulties of divorce. However at the very beginning, I was there for every doctors appointment, every shower, every everything. Then with her being still a toddler to have that daily routine of being her dad taken away was crushing to my soul. All I was, at that point in life, was a dad. It was all I had left of any value….and that seemed like it was all slipping away.
Not acknowledging that kept me drunk.
And I let it. It was my fault. Life slipped slowly away into the next beer, the next day’s happy hour that lasted till closing time, the next chance to escape. I used my ex-wife and her cruelty as an excuse. I allowed her to bully me into giving away more and more of my voice, it was easier that way than to fight. Not acknowledging that kept me drunk. Owning it helped me to get sober.
There are many of us parents out there, mom’s and dad’s, that only get their kids every other weekend. We pay our child support, we pay insurance, some of us drive over 100 miles one way just to pick them up. We aren’t perfect but we are parents. I wonder if those custodial parents, those that get their children most days, ever think about how the other parent feels.
…..revealed to me the secret sauce of life.
Those kids love both parents equally. When we fail to work together, stand united, because it is about the kids and not us, we lose. Look at our world today, is it any wonder these young people act the way they do. We taught them that. My sobriety has taught me something different. It has shown me where I made horrendous error and revealed to me the secret sauce of life. That this life, it is not just about me.
When I drove off yesterday, to make the 100 plus mile drive back home, I was in tears. That feeling of being worthless tried to infiltrate back in my mind. The words that were left in the letter were meant to devalue who I am as a father. And it hurt, but now I know better. I know that when someone feels so insecure and void of their own worth, they attack those around them to avoid facing their own shortcomings.
I know that the one check I missed was because of the Covid-19 quarantine and I hadn’t seen her for six weeks, so it got lost in the chaos. A honest mistake. Not a reflection on me as a father. I could see all the other manipulation for what it was. I could be in the moment, feel the anquish in the tears rolling down my cheeks. My heart, literally ached, for my daughter and because I know the secret sauce I can feel it all and not run away and escape.
I am grateful that I can be a part ……
This life is just not about me. Even if I just get her every other weekend. I can’t stay stuck in that hurt, it does no one any good and I can’t be a dad, husband, son, or a decent friend if I make it into another pity party. It is what it is, it is life. I am grateful for every other weekend, I am grateful that I can be a part of raising her and watching her grow up, no matter what that looks like. 6 years ago, I wasn’t even allowed to see her, so I just remain grateful.
Being a parent is no easy job. Actually, I think it may be the hardest job known to mankind, and also the most fulfilling. Being a parent in recovery just adds another level of difficulty but also comes with tools of character that are a great perk if developed. We may get lied about, we may be the object of gossip and manipulation, but that isn’t on us, it’s on them.
We have been given a second chance.
No matter how things play out, it is ok. We can sit with those emotions we used to drink away. We are able to process them and put them in their proper place. And, we can make the best of what we have because it just isn’t about us anymore. We have been given a second chance. We can and do recover every single day. So that if all we get is every other weekend, we are there.
Be proud as a parent in recovery, no matter how much or how little time, you get to spend with your children. Despite the hoops we may have to jump through our life of recovery will be a teaching tool our kids will need. So that when they face their fears and adversity, they stand and don’t run. You can teach them the secret sauce. Because you may not think they hear us, but they are watching every move we make, even if it is only, every other weekend.