I’m trying really hard not to be a salty dog but there are so many kids on Facebook going to Dad and daughter dances tonight for girl scouts.
The girls were watching Aladdin and I thought they were both asleep. I whipped out the phone and started biding my time until either (a) the movie ended or (b) I heard snoring.
We wouldn’t want them to wake up to catch me putting them in bed. I prefer not to attempt that maneuver until they’re pretty well on the road to REM land.
But as I was scrolling and liking I felt June rub her face and then I heard it.
Like if you hold the end of a balloon stretched out and let the air squeak out. That’s the sound she makes when the water works are coming on.
“What’s the matter,” I asked her, dropping the phone and scooping her up a little tighter.
“Paightyn was going to a dance with her dad,” the poor kid sqealed, and then the sobbing started.
I knew exactly where we were headed. And I felt sad too, for a split second.
Then, I felt pissed right the hell off and that’s where I remain.
We talked about all of it. Dad made a bad choice. Dad can’t live here because he has thoughts about doing things with children that aren’t safe for children to do. Dad made his bad choice a lot of times and he had to go to time out. Time out for adults is jail. I chose not to be married to dad anymore because of that.
I’ve always really resented that they know I’m the one who initiated divorce. Not sure how that came up or where but somehow they’re aware of it.
I can’t stand that it’s as if I chose to leave him high and dry. Mainly, it rubs me the wrong way because of one of the last arguments we ever had. He accused me of “leaving” him.
Leaving him. That’s a laugh. I gave him more benefit of the doubt than any sane person would have done. I “left” him because he lied to me and gaslit me for a decade of my life. Maliciously. Any time shit ever got too real or too inconvenient, any time he got too much responsibility thrown on his plate or was in danger of being held accountable for anything, all I’d hear for days was how fucked up I was. How all I ever wanted him for was his money. How I trapped him. How I was lucky he was still even speaking to me. How I didn’t have a chance in hell of making it without him. Couldn’t parent without him. Couldn’t afford the car without him. How he must be out if his mind to even still be around me, but he felt so sorry for me because no one else would want me.
But all I can say is “yes. I chose not to be married to dad anymore.”
No badmouthing. No shit talking.
Yes. It was my choice.
I hate so many things that he did but I hate none more than the ones I discover going forward. The things I couldn’t have predicted.
Like the nights I’d have to spend consoling my daughter when she sees her friends going to father-daughter dances with their dads.
I’m so tired of people talking about forgiveness. I don’t give a shit about what I should do. I don’t give a shit if it’s good for my soul to forgive him.
I don’t forgive him. I don’t. He can’t be forgiven for the tears in my kids’s eyes every time they see a father with his daughter and know that’s not something they get.
I need to forgive myself for every single time I took his shit and came back for more.
Hit me again, Ike.
Just keep kicking the shit out of me. More. More. More.
I wish I’d never met him. I wish even more that he’d been caught two years earlier, and that these kids had never met him. At least then they wouldn’t even know what they were missing. It wouldn’t be a memory they can’t replace.
It’s not often he even enters my head, and when he does it’s like he’s dead and I’m remembering a ghost. Except for every time my kids cry because they don’t have him. I hate him for being the intrusive thought and the little tug on my stomach, and my heart, tugging them down, toward my toes.
And it needs to stop. I need to feel nothing about him. I wish I could. I’m so tired of caring about any of it.
It’s a powerful kind of tired. A strong, swift kind of tired. A tired with depth. A heavy-ass sort of tired. It’s a sort of weariness.
Can I please have the emotional cortex of my brain removed? Please? I’ll pay out of pocket. Cash. Up front.
I’mma find every daddy daughter dance in this county from tomorrow until a year from tomorrow and we’re going to every goddamn one of them and I’ll be their dad for the night, and their mom.
Fuck him. I do feel one thing other than straight hatred for the man.
Because he ain’t no kind of a dad. He’ll never be a father. He has two beautiful daughters and he will never, ever know what it is to be their parent.
He’s just that guy. That guy they can’t be alone in a room with. And that’s all he’ll ever be.
If only pity could make a person happy. Then I’d be just fine for the rest of my life.