The love I once had for my ex-partner quickly turned to hate when he disregarded our child. It took me a long time to overcome the anger I had towards him, as I found it difficult to comprehend how he could walk away so easily from a life we had created. I was all too familiar with the tale of the absent father who would simply vanish out of a child’s life for months or even years, but I never thought that tale would ever apply to my life.
When the relationship broke down with my daughter’s father he played a poignant role in her life and kept a consistent relationship with her from the moment we separated. We quickly accepted that the relationship would not work and were able to put her needs first and move forward. He would keep her overnight and attend all appointments concerning her wellbeing. At the early stages he would also contribute to her financial needs. Therefore my emotional experience to single parenting had more to do with my daughter not being raised under one roof with both parents. I never had that and wanted different for her.
I am not saying that things have been smooth sailing throughout the 14 years because they have not. He went from being a fully committed father until she was around five, to suddenly only having contact with her every other weekend. It was difficult to accept at first and caused a massive strain on our parental relationship. I don’t see it fit to raise a child 48 days out of 365 days a year and could not understand the abrupt change in his parental commitments. Prior to this he had a girlfriend who was very supportive of his child and helped him out with our daughter. I gather that when their relationship came to an end, he felt less competent in his role as a father, making his time limited. After I began seeing someone new the financial assistance also came to a halt. He said he was not going to give me money for my new man. Huh?! Let’s not even go there; we will save that for another post. I was not happy with the overall outcome but accepted it for what it was. Throughout the years he has maintained his weekend parental role and his and our daughter’s loving relationship has been sustained. I do go up and down with my emotions concerning his input, as I feel he is raising her from a distance and could have had more involvement over the years. However, I do not feel anger towards him, because regardless of his sparse contact he has been there throughout her life.
After the relationship broke down with my son’s father it led to an acrimonious (bitter) relationship almost immediately. I found it extremely difficult to come to terms with because along with abandoning the relationship he decided to relinquish his responsibilities to our son. On top of the heartache, I was left with a stream of crippling emotions. I felt bitter, confused, overwhelmed, worried, resentful, tearful, frustrated and above all angry. Anger was at the forefront of my emotions and I had a difficult time shaking it off. His ill treatment towards our son got me so mad. Things between us got pretty nasty and the love we once shared quickly turned to animosity.
Things became strained after the birth of our son; he had recently started a new Stockbroker job and was working ridiculous hours. I was practically a single mother, except we were living together. When he returned from work at 9 sometimes 10 pm he would appear lethargic and would show a lack of interest in our son. Whenever it was his turn to do night feeds he would wake me up and plead for me to take over, complaining that he would not be able to function at work in the morning. I slowly began to resent him and would uphold the demands of our son alone through gritted teeth.
The constant arguments got worse overtime and when it ended in a domestic he went to spend a couple of nights at his fathers. Those couple of nights led to days, which led to weeks and then months that he stayed away without making contact. At first I did not make contact either because I thought it was best to give it time to let the dust settle. After a month of no contact regarding our son I rang him, infuriated, “What the hell is going on, have you forgot that you have a child here?” He was at work and sounded happy as Larry, “I will call you as soon as I get back on my feet.” My jaw dropped. I was in total shock; I did not know this man on the phone. He was acting as if I was a complete stranger and totally disregarded our son. Initially, I was hurt that he did not see our five years together enough of a reason to salvage our relationship after the dispute. Being the strong woman that I am I thought, ‘oh well, things have not been that great if I am honest with myself,’ and was happy for us to go our separate ways.
As the months went by I heard nothing regarding our son. Whenever I called he ignored my calls and would text me saying I should email him. When he did decide to lay his eyes on our son, he would then disappear for months on end. My blood was boiling, the rage and anger inside me grew daily, the pain unexplainable. ‘Who is this man and where is the man I fell in love with?’ Is what kept running through my mind. I could deal with the fact that maybe he did not want a future with me, a great way of timing it but hey it happens. It was the way he treated our son that got under my skin.
What did this tiny life do to him why he hated him so much? I would ask myself over and over again as I stared into our son’s innocent eyes whilst tears filled mine. He missed his first smile, first tooth, first word, first time crawling, first step, every milestone he reached. And with each milestone a part of me died. I felt angry at myself that I failed my son by not making better choices. I was frustrated that my son was now carrying the name of a man who he did not know. It was a repetition of the harrowing tale of my own father and brought back dreadful memories of my past rejection from him.
The anger and hatred I had towards my son’s father was rife. I regretted ever laying eyes on him and punished myself for falling for his false commitments. I would spend days searching blogs for answers, then cry buckets of tears after reading the hundreds of stories mirroring my own. I was angry at the court system and wanted to change the law for child abandonment. I was desperate to change my son’s surname. I was angry at society for turning a blind eye to absent fathers. Wherever I went and whoever was listening I would bang on about how much of a Deadbeat, Wasteman he was. I was desperate for the world to acknowledge his evil deeds.
It got to the point where I started drinking heavy and would have angry outbursts about my situation. I would lash out and be verbally abusive to family members, as if it were their fault. During the heights of my angry rage my ex-partner got me arrested three times and had a 6 months non molestation order set against me. At the time I was suffering from postnatal depression, and combined with alcohol I was on a path to self-destruction. Eventually, the anger began to destroy my character and I was essentially destroying mine and my children’s lives. I had no motivation for life and no idea how I would pull myself out of the black hole I was in. But I had a battle on my hands with the law to clear my name for all the false allegations set against me and needed to find the will to fight. I am not saying I was completely innocent in it all, as I am a tough cookie and do not take disrespect lying down. Even more so when it comes to my children. Using the law to escape his responsibilities was a low blow and I was not going to have my name tarnished on top of everything else he had put me through.
I took accountability for my part in the domestics and set up an action plan of how I would get my life back on track. I realised that the anger was chipping away at my soul and was destroying my dignity. My children deserved me at my best and I understood that joy and anger could not live in the same home. I was putting all of my time and energy into the negative – focusing on what he was doing wrong, as opposed to what I was doing right. It suddenly dawned on me that I was losing myself for a man who could not care less about his flesh and blood. A man who had moved on with his life and met someone new, and who continuously disrespected me although I nurtured and provided for his child every day. A man who was not capable of loving himself much less his child.
Our son was two years old when I finally set myself free from the anger and got my life back on a more positive, fulfilling path. As much as I felt ashamed about it, I sought help for my postnatal depression and alcohol abuse. I was able to talk to professionals about some of my darkest fears. They gave me support and tools on ways to move forward from the situation. If you are suffering in silence it will not go away, there is amazing support out there for single parents so do not be ashamed to make use of it. It could change your life. We are human beings, and as much as we are probably some of the strongest people on the planet, mentally, we could all do with a bit of help from time to time.
After continuous battles with my ex-partner, studying for my degree and having a handful of nights off during that time, I needed to recoup. I booked a week away to a spa resort in Lanzarote, which turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life. It was there where I found myself and came to terms with my situation. I spent hours in the mountains with the sun and the ocean reflecting on my circumstances and how I could make changes. It was where I decided I would ‘Let Go and Let God’… I forgave my ex-partner for everything he had put me through and set myself free. No longer would I respond to his behaviour. I changed the code for the buttons that he knew how to push and stopped rising to every argument he invited me to. Instead I diverted my focus on being the greatest mother to my children and reclaimed back my life. I was desperate to laugh again; it was time to be happy and find my true life purpose.
The minute I decided to let go of the anger and placed the situation in God’s hands there was a complete shift in my life. Almost a year passed where I heard nothing from my son’s father, until I received a card from him on Christmas Day. I did not respond and 1 month later he applied to the court for contact. His order was rejected due to a conviction he received during the year he went missing. I attended a court hearing for his accusations and was found not guilty of all charges that he set against me and shortly after he was sent down for his own pitfalls. This man set out on a mission to destroy me, but karma had other plans and he ended up destroying himself instead.
We have managed to move forward since then and have put the past behind us for the sake of our son who is now four. He will be released any day now and I will support him in building a relationship with our son 100%. But I will have no expectations of the role he will play, so long as I am doing my role that is all that matters.
Letting go of the embedded anger towards your child’s father is not something that will happen overnight. It will take time and in some cases many dreadful situations before you get there. However long it takes, you must at some point set yourself free. If anger is consuming you, think of a plan to put out the burning flames.
‘No matter how justified I was in my anger it never actually changed anything. This is why I must let go… Not because I think it is okay but I love myself too much to keep holding on.’ – Lisa Prosen.
Edited by Shayanne Campbell