Naturally, I could throw myself on the sword, – something I’m sure a few people would be willing to pay to see – play the martyr, and take all the blame. That certainly would allow Betty to continue repeating to others the part of the story that is convenient. But truthfully, if blame were food we would be having a Thanksgiving feast and everyone involved would have seconds. I’m not a martyr – although I acted like one for a long time. I’m also not a predator or evil – and I believe Betty is not a victim, nor an angel. From my perspective, Betty and I were volunteers. Which is also a hard truth but I’m tired of taking all the blame. This, of course, does not release me from any culpability because my attitude and actions certainly contributed to the chaos.
I’ve been told children learn in the womb and hate is learned. If I accept these as scientific facts then my daughter, Cassie, learned to hate me early. I provided many learning opportunities for her mother to pass along. As I said earlier, in hindsight her mother’s contempt for me was well earned. There are a number of reasons for this. Let me mention a couple of the obvious ones.
January 6, 1989. I know the exact day because it is Betty’s birthday. She was five months pregnant and living with her parents. I committed to taking her out for her birthday. Of course, I didn’t show…or call…or even buy a card. I can only imagine the anguish she felt as a young, attractive, soon-to-be single mother sitting alone at her parent’s house on her birthday. Of course, when confronted I lied about where I was. I lied about what I was doing. I lied about whom I was with. A hard truth: I was a liar. Every January 6, I still shake my head in disbelief. I’m amazed by how immature and self-centered I was.
For over 9 years I owed back child support. At one time I owed more than $19,000. That’s right — $19,000. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the money but rather, for a time I selfishly didn’t want my daughter’s mother to have it. I was trying to control Betty with money in an attempt to make her respect my rights as a father. Obviously, it didn’t work. It only reinforced her perspective that I was too immature and selfish to be trusted with Cassandra. In hindsight we were both trying to get what we wanted using any leverage we could find.
My simmering resentment towards some of my daughter’s mother’s choices, combined with bitterness towards the unfairness of life combined to make me a miser. Resentment is a horrible thing. I hurt everyone and betrayed my daughter, Betty, my family and the law. I’m not sure there is a word that accurately describes my character over those long dark years. Jerk? Coward? Inconsiderate? Selfish? I was all of these, plus a few I won’t print here. You can probably think of a few more. And you’re probably accurate.
More hard truth…