My Father Abandoned Me... And Eventually, My Dad Did Too.My father abandoned me shortly after I was born. My "normal" growing up was living in my grandparents' house, with my Mom-Mom, my Pop-Pop, and my mother. This was my life for the first few years of my childhood, and I was happy.
When I was four, my Mom got married to the man who I would refer to as "Dad". He took me in as his own son - he went well beyond what you would expect from a step-father. As far as I was concerned, this was my Dad. I knew that he was not my father, but the relationship I had with him taught me that the title of "Dad" is worth far more than the title of "father" - anyone can be a father, but it really takes a great man to be a Dad. Dad earned his title. Although I didn't understand it at the time, he filled a major void in my life.
As I became older, I thought more about not knowing my biological father. All that my family would tell me about him would be bad - he had a horrible temper... he knocked my Mom down the stairs while she was pregnant with me... he got into physical fights with Pop-Pop (and ran from him with his tail tucked between his legs)... There was nothing redeeming about this man. After my father and my Mom divorced, apparently my father packed up and ran away to live across the country. I literally never heard from him... not once.
I was upset about not having a father - but Dad completely replaced him. I had a Mom and a Dad, and that became my new normal. Life was good. I had two parents, and even though my biological father was a total mystery and a gaping hole in my mind, I had a Mom and I had a Dad. I needed nothing else. I had made it just fine without my father, and I felt no need for change. I did not feel a need to know who my father was, although I was certainly curious.
I learned a lot from my Dad over the years, as I think all children learn a lot from their parents. I knew that he worked very hard - he worked long hours, and he was rather good at his job. He got paid very well for what he did, and he obtained bigger and better things with that cash. As I looked around the house at all the things we had, I determined that my Dad truly understood the value of a dollar. Here was a man who worked his butt off for every cent that he had, and you could see the rewards of his toils all over the house. I didn't think I'd do the things he did if I had money, but I figured he earned the right to buy what he wanted to buy. Dad was the paragon of financial responsibility in my mind - if you work hard, you get paid well and you deserve to do what you want with that cash.
I also learned a lot about respect - I knew that the house was my parents' house, and I knew that their word was law. My Dad learned this from his father, who employed corporal punishment on his son. Once in a great while my Dad did strike me, but the occasions were very rare - I was amazed that a man who was constantly hit by his father did not employ the same type of punishment when he became a Dad. I respected that immensely.
My Mom and Dad certainly argued a lot. I don't know how other people are when their parents argue, but I always liked listening to the arguments. Sometimes the yelling would get very loud and I would become afraid of what would happen next, but eventually everything settled down and there was peace.
The years passed, and eventually it was time for me to go to college. My grades were rather good, but not the best. I ended up with a choice between two schools and two ways of life for college. I had a free ride to a "lesser college". Going to this school would mean I would stay at home through my college years. My parents offered to buy me a new car if I chose to go to this school, as they would not have to pay for my schooling. My other choice was to go to a school with supposedly a "better education", but my parents would have to pick up the tab as I did not have a full ride there. However, I would have the chance to live at college - to live away from home. My parents told me not to worry about cost, that cost was not an issue - just make the choice that I want to make. The choice was a rather difficult one, but I took what I believed to be the better education - and I moved away from home.
I moved into my freshman dorm room and started getting accustomed to life at college. However, within a few days of living there... the phone rang. It was my Mom, and she gave me the most shocking news I'd ever heard in my life. Within a minute, she told me the following three things:
1) My Mom and Dad are getting a divorce.
2) My Mom is in contact with my biological father.
3) I have a half-sister who wants to meet me.
I knew I needed help. I couldn't process all this on my own... so, I went to my next-door-neighbor's room; a girl who I trusted more than anyone else I had met to this point at school. I talked with her about all of this for hours and hours... until she was about to fall asleep shortly before the sun came up. I just didn't know what to make of all of this. I had no idea my parents were anywhere near getting a divorce... and my FATHER is in the picture all of a sudden? And... after being an only child for the first 18 years of my life - I have a HALF-SISTER!? All this happening within my first week of college. I just couldn't handle it.
A week later, I met my biological father and my half-sister for the first time... it was an eerie moment. I think I was still lost because of everything else that was going on, but the first meeting seemed to go fine. However, our relationship never really materialized. I never wanted it to... and it never has. I hated that man for what he did to me... and I still do.
As for the divorce - I was so glad I was at college. I could separate myself from home, and live sort of "on my own" and try my best not to think about it. Mom agreed to give up the house, and Dad agreed to pay for my college education in return. Dad told me that I had nothing to worry about - he would have no difficulty paying for my college. That was good news... but my parents divorcing was still pretty crushing.
Halfway through college, my Dad told me that he was having trouble keeping up with the bills for my college, so he told me that we would have to take out a student loan. He told me that he would co-sign the loan, and that he would pay for the loans in their entirety. He told me that these loans were necessary for me to continue my education. I accepted his reasoning... and signed the papers.
I continued through college, and eventually I graduated. A year later, I married to the next-door-neighbor I mentioned earlier. It was difficult in regards to my family, because my Mom and Dad were still at war, but as far as I was concerned they, together, were my parents... so I wanted them both involved in my wedding. It was stressful and it was difficult... but they did both participate. My wife and I were married, and we started our life together.
I had a job, we were living on our own - we were building a life together. All was well. Until... the credit limit on one of my credit cards plummeted for what I believed to be no reason. I had no idea why this happened - I always paid my bills on time. I obtained my credit report... and discovered something disturbing. My student loan hadn't been paid for over three months. This was the first time was aware of any problems with the loan. I called my Dad and asked him about it... He told me that he missed a few payments, but he had everything under control. I asked if he needed any help in paying for the loans. After all, this was my college education that was creating the loans - I was willing to at least help pay for my education. He told me that I did not need to worry about it... he had it under control. I figured that would be the end of it... until I started getting collection calls.
To make a long story short, he never made another payment on the student loans. My relationship with Dad started to deteriorate. I trusted him... and he refused to even let me know that he was not paying for a loan that was in my name. A loan that he said I would never have to worry about.
For a time, I tried to work out some sort of arrangement with my Dad where we would each pay for a portion of the student loan. I knew the damage that a loan in collections could do, and I wanted to get out of it as quickly as possible. He often ignored my attempts at communication – I’d have to beg him to respond to me at all. When he would respond, he’d send some sort of nonsensical reply. I’d send an actual plan with payment amounts, frequency, and details – and he’d respond by saying “we have to work together to get this done”.
Eventually, I learned that this was not the only loan he was having trouble with – he was in greater financial trouble than he had let on. I realized that I could not enter into a financial agreement with this man, as there was no way he would hold up his end of the bargain. My Mom had been discussing the prospect of bringing my Dad to court to enforce the property settlement agreement from their divorce – in which my Dad receives the house but in return he has to pay for my college. I realize that doing such a thing would annihilate any chance of maintaining a relationship with my Dad… but at this point I am thinking of the damage that has been done to my family. We are unable to consider getting a house because of the poor condition of my credit. Something has to be done to fix it… so I reluctantly agree to my Mom’s request – she hires a lawyer, and takes him to court.
My Dad last saw my daughter at her first birthday party. She is now 2.5 years old. Also, we have another child now – and my Dad is completely unaware of her. I intend to keep it that way. I have not been in contact with the man I used to call “Dad”. We finally went to court… and there I was, sitting there – with my former “Dad” on one side and my Mom on the other side, in a court of law… back at war. The mere sight of it was almost enough to make me break down into tears. "Dad" provided the court with receipts proving that he paid for my college… so the judge asked my Mom’s attorney why we were in court today, as it appears "Dad" has met his obligation. The lawyer contests that "Dad" did pay for the college, but then he paid himself back in loans that were in both his and my name, and he has not repaid the loans… so the judge turns to "Dad" and asks him what he has to say about this. "Dad" says: “I did not think that was relevant to these proceedings.”
Things went downhill for him from there… he eventually went on to explain: “I have a new family now, and I have to provide for them.” Hearing that come from his mouth hurt… I was his son. He was a proud grandfather. Now he has a new family…
Well, my Mom won the case against him, so we had a judgment against him... and he went on to declare bankruptcy. Suffice it to say that this was not the only issue he was having - his level of debt is absurd. All this from the man I thought to be the “paragon of financial responsibility”. I'd share the details with you, but put it this way - his debt is astonishing.
I could go on providing more details about the particulars of the bankruptcy, lies he has told, and so on… but the more pressing matter for me right now is personal. I have not spoken to "Dad" in over a year. He is totally unaware of my second daughter. My father abandoned me, and my Dad ruined me and my family financially. I just do not know how to reconcile this. He earned the title of Dad, and to have this happen… it was a total blindside. I am still shell-shocked by it. I do not know what to do about it. I have felt like I need some kind of help, some sort of counseling, anything to try and comprehend all of this… I have felt like there needs to be some kind of resolution, some kind of closure to my relationship with "Dad". I don’t understand how our relationship could have come to this. He meant the world to me… and now he has destroyed me. The breach of trust in not being able to tell me he wasn’t paying the loans is something I cannot comprehend. I want some sort of justice… some sort of ending to all of this. A massive void was left when my father abandoned me, and now it has been ripped even further. It hurts so much to have had this man become the biggest adversary I have ever known…
I’m not even sure what I am asking for at this point. I just know that I need help… and I do not know where to turn for it. I have told this story so many times to so many people, yet it seems there is no answer, no solution… I have wanted to physically hurt this man. I have wanted to come to where he lives and unleash all of the anger and frustration that has come from this, but I know that is not a plausible solution. I just don’t know what to do. I need this to come to its conclusion, but I don’t think that is possible.
To whoever does end up reading this… thank you for your patience in reading my ramblings. I’d say that just writing this has been therapeutic, but I don’t think it has been… I am looking for answers that probably don’t exist. The trouble is, I need those answers. Thinking about this again and again sends my thoughts into some kind of never-ending loop, as I can’t wrap my mind around all of this. I need to close the loop… and I can’t.