I didn’t have the greatest parents in the world. Before my parents got divorced, I barely knew my father because he was always working to provide for us. He was a good provider. He just was kind of an absentee father.
All that changed when my parents separated. Suddenly there were scheduled visits for me to see my dad every week. It was wonderful. We bonded so closely.
One day we were on a road trip and I got locked in the bathroom of a service station. I’ve always had abandonment issues and I was terrified that my father would forget about me and leave without me.
My father heard me screaming and crying and broke down the bathroom door. From that day on, he was my hero.
As I said, we had a very close relationship once we started having scheduled visits. He didn’t have any adult friends he felt he could confide in with the pain and anguish of going through a divorce. So, I became his confidant. I was the one he told his problems to. I was the one who kept his secrets. It’s like we were a team.
When my father got remarried all that changed. His new wife became his confidant. He didn’t need me anymore and it showed in our relationship. Where as we used to have traditions of playing basketball every Saturday at the gym and would go on outings to Dunkin Donuts every Sunday morning, now we weren’t “allowed” to do these things because his new wife didn’t want us spending so much time together.
Our relationship deteriorated over the next year, with him pulling away from me and his wife openly despising me. Eventually our relationship died all together. He promised we would go for counseling together – but it never happened. He just stopped calling. He stopped having me over for visits. He left my life completely.
This was the man who was once my hero. Now he wanted nothing to do with me.
It hurt. It hurt a lot. The fact is, I’ve never gotten over it – even though I do go to therapy on my own now. In my heart, I’m just a kid who wishes he had a father. I don’t think that will ever change.
As tragic as my relationship with my father turned out to be, I learned a lot from it. I learned how to be a good father by not repeating the mistakes he and my mother made.
I have two sons. They are my reason for living – literally.
My oldest boy, just turned 13. He’s a teenager now. Ever since he was three years old I have talked to him everyday on the phone. Every week I write him a letter and send it to him in the mail. That’s been going on 10 years; that’s 5,200 letters and counting. And, I see him every week – rain, shine, or snow. I want him to know that I love him and would do anything for him.
My other son is 10 years old. He Autistic, so it doesn’t work to write him letters. He is just starting to understand how a phone call works, so sometimes we have mini-talks. Since he is on the nonverbal end of the spectrum, phone calls are me talking to him. But I see him at least once a week; usually two or three times a week. Like my other son, I love him dearly and would do anything for him.
I may not earn a huge amount of money. But what I do earn, goes to my children. But my father always sent money – even when he stopped talking to me. So, I know money doesn’t make one a good father. It’s time and love and attention. And that is what I give to my sons. I would have gladly traded all the money my father sent for him to love me.
So, if you can learn anything from my ordeal, know that you can learn to be a good parent by recognizing the mistakes your own parents and vowing hot to make those same mistakes.
We can break the cycle. I’m living proof.
Peace. Love. Trust.