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Something one of the kids said.

Justsomeguy posted 5/27/2020 09:43 AM

It's been 2 1/2 years since the big Dday and almost 2 years separated, heading for divorce proceedings to be worked out. I filed right after I told my WW we were done. I have been in my new place for 10 months and it is way too small for us, but we manage. I gave each of my teen girls their own bedroom (i though it was important for them to have privacy) and that left me with nowhere to sleep, so I took the dining nook. It is just big enough for a double bed and a couple end tables. I have a curtain at the end of the bed, but that's it. It suffices.

I'm trying to make life as normal as I can, despite dealing with teens and some extra health challenges they each have. It's all manageable and I try my best. I fall apart in front of them every once in a while, but quicly apologize, explaining that I'm no longer the man I use to be, but I'm trying to find my way back. Hopefully, one day I will.

I share parenting with my EX, week on, week off. Transition days can be tough. When they leave, I'm sad and let them know I will miss them. Sometimes I cry. Most times I get drunk. When they arrive, I like to gave a good meal planned for them, something special as I am a scratch cook. The last time they arrived, I was sitting on my ridiculously small balcony having a glass of wine, when one of my daughters came and sat with me. She looked at me and said, "You know dad, it's funny how you are always happy to get us and mom is always happy to get rid of us."

All I could do was smile a little and nod. I was torn by what she said. If I'm honest, I did take some pleasure in being the better parent in that moment, but what I really felt was failure. I wanted to do things right as a family. You see, I had a shitty mom. She was emotionally, mentally, and physically abusive, once trying to stab me in the chest with a kitchen knife. She looked at people as things from which she could take. Not maternal at all. And I married a woman so very like her. Please no Freudian deconstruction please...haha

There have been other comments as they get older and start to see their mother with adult eyes. I never say anything disrespectful about her in front of them. But in that moment, what part of me wanted to say is, "I'm sorry you got a lousy mom kids. I had one and I get it. It's tough always feeling like they dont give a dame about you because in some way, you are just not enough. It's not your fault. She got broken along the way and never fixed herself. Just understand, it not up to you to fix her. People dont fix other people. It took me a long time to learn this, over 50 years. Learn from her. Let her be an example of what not to do. Live a better life than her. But don't think you dodged a bullet like I thought I did. Neither of us did. You will need to look deep within yourself for the lasting impact of these years and find ways of dealing with it. You must work to heal and become a whole person, a better person than either your mother or I. But know this, I will always love you and be here for you, even of it is to just hold space."

Anyway, that's what I wanted to say, but instead, I just nodded and said, "Oh..."

Chrysalis123 posted 5/27/2020 10:09 AM

I married a man similar to your ex and guess what? I married my dysfunctional father. It is not uncommon.

In my case my mother died when I was 13 and I was left with a dad that didn't want me, appreciate me, and was misogynistic toward me. Lovely no?...

Think about it--- we were emotionally abandoned to raise ourselves. I did what I needed to do to survive as a traumatized young girl. I parented myself as well as a damaged child could parent herself.

When it came time to find a spouse the dysfunctional dynamic was the only one that felt comfortable to me. My coping mechanisms worked for surviving a terrible time, but were not functional adult coping strategies. How would I know that? I did not have good parents.

I turned myself inside out to get my ex to want me, appreciate me, and stop being sexist.

Guess who needed to change? ME!!!

When we know better, we do better. And look at you go. Trust me, as an abandoned kid with a neglectful father, I am just thrilled with how you are treating your daughters. OMG- what a gift you are giving them.

Alonelyagain posted 5/27/2020 10:13 AM

I had a similar experience. XWW and I have been divorced for 1.5 years and have joint custody of our three kids. Last week, I was chatting with DD14 and she said that she recently start watching the TV show How to Get Away With Murder online starting with the first season and was enjoying it a lot until it was revealed that the main female character was having an affair and that DD14 couldnít watch it any more after that. Like you, JSG, I just smirked a bit and nodded. Iíve been thinking about what I should said, if anything.

[This message edited by Alonelyagain at 5:24 PM, May 28th (Thursday)]

Butforthegrace posted 5/27/2020 11:25 AM

There is a scene in one of the last episodes of "Designated Survivor" where a main character is sitting with her mother at the mother's hospital bedside. The mother has advanced stage 4 cancer and is dying. One thing the mother says to the daughter is along the lines of: "You are by far the best thing that has ever happened to me, and I can die knowing that you are the best thing I ever did. It makes me happy. My only regret is that I gave you such an asshole for a father."

J707 posted 5/27/2020 11:28 AM

My ex thinks I fill my kids heads up with lies. What she doesn't get is that they see her for who she is. Kids aren't stupid. I never bad mouth their mother in front of them, never have.

DD12 told me she likes having deep, meaningful conversations with me. That it's something she can't do with her mother. My heart sank. She knows shes fake but wants that motherly love. I worry about that as she continues to grow older.

What can I do or control? Keep a drama free house. Keep things in order. Be Daddy with open and honest communication. Keep my side of the street clean. I'll be there for both my kids and they know that, always.

It does seem like the kids are a burden to their mother. She wants to have immature fun. I swear, if it wasn't for the stigma of her being labeled an abandoned mother, she would do just that. Maybe not but that's how I view it, which is sad.

Justsomeguy posted 5/27/2020 11:40 AM

Thank you all. I am reading and rereading these replies.

J707 posted 5/27/2020 11:47 AM

Take in what your daughter said. They know, they see. As they grow older, they know who they can count on. Dad! It shows how strong you are along with many of us BS's. Even when your struggling, there you are handling business! You're a good Dad! They know it too!

Okokok posted 5/27/2020 11:57 AM

Well I hope you find that validating on some level.

I see a lot of similarities in your story and mine. I remember your last post about how you're always "on." I feel the same way! It's pretty tough when you're really putting in the work and doing it alone.

My oldest has had these kinds of moments with me. It validates what I see from exWW, validates I'm doing a good job, etc. It's kind of a "win."

And I think your response was a good one. It hurts a kid when they have a parent who acts like that with them. Not sure about your situation, but in my kids' case, their mom is constantly focused on whatever boyfriend is currently in the picture, and she will do whatever it takes to unload the kids early, an extra day, whatever. I think that wears a kid down even if they're not conscious of it. Just hurts.

But she's still Mom, so you've got to support them through that. Tricky stuff. But yeah, still validating on many levels. Great job, Dad!

Stevesn posted 5/27/2020 22:03 PM

Take the response that you wrote here and wished you said, copy and paste it to a word doc and print it out and keep it on one of your end tables. Next time you have that same discussion with them tell them, ďhere, I wrote this out because I didnít want to forget it. I hope it helps. ď

EggplantGalore posted 5/27/2020 22:18 PM

JSG - I love that you have a bedroom "nook" so that your girls can have their own rooms. That sacrifice won't be lost on them as they mature and realize what you gave up for them. Hopefully your divorce will be finalized soon. Are you planning to eventually have your own space again so be actively dating and busy when the girls aren't with you?

For the days that you don't think it matters, please remind yourself that it really does. My kids are older and thriving, and they've been through this for 6+ years. They are so thankful for a solid parent with a safe home environment where they can be themselves.

JSG, and all of you who give so much for your kids, your sharing here is appreciated too. Your kids will remember your strength and courage in spite of all the struggles. They will remember the all-nighters staying up late helping them with term papers, or going to late night movies, or family scavenger hunts for fast grocery shopping.

LadyG posted 5/27/2020 22:43 PM

I am so glad you share your story including the struggles of parenting. You really renew my hope that there are good men and fathers out there. Yes I know they exist but solo parenting is a different ballgame to parenting as a couple.

My own Mother was emotionally absent from my life and at 18 I discovered that she was having an affair with a good family friend. My siblings and I had our suspicions, but seeing it never leaves you. I confronted her about it and swore I would tell Dad if she didnít stop. My mother threatened me and called me a liar and all sorts of vile names. I have no idea how my parents reconciled this but the good friend who was also married disappeared from our lives for a long time.

My Motherís infidelity has caused on going issues for me. I always felt insecure in all relationships thereafter. I havenít spoken to my Mother since my father passed away. I was the silent dutiful daughter up to then.

My own children are all over 21 and they are fully aware of my Motherís infidelity and now their own Father. I will never know the full extent of his betrayal. My children are only now telling me about some abuse whilst I was working on weekends.

Itís a vicious cycle if it isnít bought out into the open. I refuse to hide my anguish and rug sweep any longer. Peace 🙏🏼

Justsomeguy posted 5/28/2020 10:22 AM

Thank you Eggplantgalore and LadyG especially. Your responses were nice to read. And thank you all as well.
As for getting a place, yes, I hope to one day. My area is very expensive and I dont have many good working years left in my to start over rebuilding financially. It is a shame the destruction caused by infidelity.

As for dating, i tried for a bit with an absolutely amazing woman. But because i could not be there for her fully, we agreed that we should part. We care for one another deeply, bu because I am still too wounded, i need to focus in me and my kids. I have become intimately familiar with a new word...maudlin.

I am trying to be content with my own company, and am slowly making progress. I fear that I may one day become too content and have no desire for a partner though. A good partner makes sense though. Someone to stand beside and journey through the years with. Anyway, enough pity for myself. I need to focus on my word for the year, "forward". So forward it is then...

Anna123 posted 5/28/2020 14:12 PM

You sound like a wonderful father.

You will need to look deep within yourself for the lasting impact of these years and find ways of dealing with it.

Certain phrases get into a teen's mind and can shape who they BELIEVE they are, whether it applies or not. The point makes sense, but my first reaction was it implies they SHOULD have issues and if they miss them, they are certainly there and they need to be found. (even though that is not what you said, I know) I prefer to let them find their negatives on their own while pointing out the positives. But's that's why you only thought it and didn't say it, so your instincts are probably along what I was thinking.

Take care.

learningtofeel posted 5/30/2020 10:20 AM

I completely agree about writing down what you wanted to tell your kids and saving it for another moment, and actually telling them. Depending on how old they are in their teens (13 is very different from 17), you could say that pretty simply and it could be really helpful to them. I believe that parenting our children into adulthood means figuring out how to pull back the veils of our own adulthood in ways that don't expect them to parent us instead. Sharing who you are and what you've learned, just as you wrote it - without malice or blame - pulls back the veil and offers them some ways to begin to see both of their parents as the imperfect people you are.

I have been doing this in particular with one of my kids who is terrified that he is "just like dad." Mine are all young adults now, in their 20s, so not the same as yours, but just the same, yours deserve to have your help in understanding who you both are. My son is not "just like dad," but if he doesn't address some of the same issues (he grew up in our family after all) he might be some day.

I never trash talk their dad at all. But I am comfortable sharing my observations about what both of our limitations are, and how their dad was harmed in his own childhood in ways he has not yet started to address. I also always say something like, "And I hope for him that he is able to do that growth." Not sure I believe he'll do it (honestly, I don't believe it), but I think it sends a good message to the kids that they are not doomed.

Hang in there in your dining alcove!

betrayedafter20 posted 6/1/2020 10:38 AM

Justsomeguy,

I'm in agreement with Lady G

You really renew my hope that there are good men and fathers out there.

Not in anyway making light of your post, - and it sounds like a validating moment. But FWIW I imagine several BW's here are probably thinking "geez I'd sure like to have an H like that" so when your time comes, I don't think you'll have any trouble having a happy time with someone else when you get past the maudlin stage.

Justsomeguy posted 6/1/2020 15:03 PM

Thanks, that means a lot to me...

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