Let’s be frank.
My daughter’s mom, Betty, hates me because of some of my choices. She hates me because I consciously made some choices because they were in my “best” interest. She hates me because I disagreed with her and made other choices I thought were in Cassie’s “best” interest. Of course, there are some plain old-fashioned poor choices. These were choices that were in no one’s interest. They were simple the easiest. I made more than a few of these “easiest” choices – as did Betty. As I said, it is because of these choices Betty hates me. And Cassie hates me because of what Betty has taught her about my choices.
Truthfully, I can offer only feeble excuses for my poor choices and the resulting behavior. I won’t even attempt to justify that behavior. In the early days, I often didn’t chose “right”, or even “best”, I chose only “easiest”. I chose what I thought was “easiest” throughout Betty’s pregnancy and financially for several years of Cassandra’s life. In hindsight, I was often wrong and continue to struggle with the consequences. In every case, the “easiest” choices have resulted in the harshest consequences. I had difficulty buying a car because of the past due child support. I’ve had my license suspended. Third dates were hard to come by because most women have difficulty understanding why.
Heck, I have difficulty understanding why.
However, the most painful consequence was not being able to face myself in the mirror, or look others in their eyes, because of my shame. It kept me awake at night. Sometimes it still does.
I wish I could say the consequences affected only me. They didn’t. My choices tore through the lives of family and friends. My daughter has grown up not knowing her father. My first wife, Rachel, struggled with the emotional and financial consequences of my arrogance. My daughter’s stepfather is raising her. Choices have kept my parents from seeing their first granddaughter for almost fourteen years.
Try looking at yourself in the mirror after these hard set in. Try living with that hard truth.
I imagine if you’ve read to this point, you’re angry. Rereading this I’m angry. My daughter, my family, her family and society deserve better. I know it. I’ve known it since the beginning but it all came to a painful head on Oct 9, 1995. The year Cassie turned six.
I just didn’t know where to start to make it better. I knew it would never be “right”. So, I figured it would be “best” for everyone if I were dead. I sat on the corner of a hotel bed in Chicago wanting to pull the trigger. I wanted to escape from the seemingly inescapable, endless pain and consequences. I wanted an out. I couldn’t look in the mirror. I couldn’t look my wife, my family, my friends or complete strangers, in the eyes. If I did, I was sure they’d see straight to my soul and see I was walking through a living hell. They’d see I was a failure. A coward. A liar. A cheat. A thief. And how I felt about myself was far worse than what others thought about me.
Believe me, I know, because on more than one occasion people share their opinion of me with me. They never said anything new…they rarely said anything helpful.
I didn’t think the shame, remorse, fear, loneliness, and morbid reflection would ever dissipate but it did because someone cared…