Hi, it’s me. I’m not sure you really remember me, as it’s been a number of years but as a bit of a refresh- I’m the woman you left to raise 5 kids alone. And you know what? I’m doing okay, and so are the kids. They’re playing hockey, competitively dancing, eager students and…. wait, why am I even bothering with this?
You don’t care.
You chose to disown them. You said to me (more than enough times) that you don’t have children and refuse to acknowledge their existence. I chose to let that go because I know you’re struggling. I know addiction has you at the throat and your life is better off at a far and distant proximity. I do feel for you and it saddens me to know that your demons are winning this battle. I couldn’t imagine a life on the streets, I really couldn’t. I can’t fathom the pain you must feel.
But I also can’t fathom some of the glorification you receive. I do know that you need love and support to overcome addiction, and Lord knows you have received both of those on numerous occasions. I’m happy that people want to help you, and the homeless population in general, but you laid your hands on me enough times that a no-contact order was put in place. I went back because I blamed myself and the alcohol you consumed, but it continued to happen. You definitely know how to work the public.
You know, sometimes I get word that you’re ‘doing well’ and I struggle with hearing that because I have to question it. How can a man do well when he’s abandoned his children? Or a man who has physically hurt his wife?Has it become acceptable to accept this behaviour just because you’re an addict? And listen, I’ve done my fair share of education on mental health and addiction and I know the ins and outs of the disease. I practice empathy. But that’s not my point here today. My point today is to be raw over how this has affected MY life dynamic and how addiction truly affects a family. I’m glad you have support out there because you left me with nothing.
I’m not saying I was a perfect wife by any means but it takes a special sort of human to take off and leave. You left us with a massive debt. I don’t forgive you for that. I STILL get calls from debt collectors because of you. I’m still paying for the car YOU totalled. I paid for damages on both cars when you got angry and purposely smashed into my vehicle that was parked on the road. You don’t pay child support and I highly doubt you ever will. And you’ve been gone almost 5 years. It adds up. This is all in addition to raising 5 kids alone on a single income.
So, what else has your departure meant for me? It means I have to be present, ALWAYS, and I need to bust my ass to provide. It means I had to stop bartending and get my butt back into school in order to find a career that will financially carry a larger-than-normal family. It means that I’ll be working a few jobs for the rest of my life, while ensuring the kids all need to get to where they need to be. I’m a believer in extra-curricular activities and I’m a believer in mastery. And they will have their opportunities, believe me. The fire that’s burning in my soul is driving me to ensure these kids NEVER feel your loss. Just because you left me in bankruptcy doesn’t mean that they’re going to suffer. But you absolutely made my life a hell of a lot harder. I won’t even get started on what you’ve done to my brain with the absolute garbage you’ve said to me.
You drained our accounts. There were times I couldn’t afford to buy a pack of diapers because of your so-called habits. I had to learn how to hide money under the kitchen sink. I learnt that I needed to set an emergency stash to the side, every week for a new bathroom door because you’d always break it down when I ran and hid. I called my mother way too many times to bail me out of financial issues because you’d disappear for a night and come back with a negative bank account.
Normally, I’m okay. My days are busy, always, but I can lay my head on the pillow at night and be so grateful that I got to experience another day with these kids. But there are also days when I’m so angry because I’m so mad at you for making it so. damn. hard. I get angry when I can’t pay a bill on time because of the car payment FOR A CAR I DON’T EVEN DRIVE. And sometimes I get stuck in a self-pity trap thinking how much life would be easier if I had child support. It would lessen my burden substantially.
But this isn’t my reality. My reality is that I had to clean up after you in a big way. Not only was I left with your financial mess but I had to clean up damage in my family and damage within myself and my kids.
Your drug dealers called me. They’ve threatened my life. And they’ve threatened my baby girl’s life. I had police patrol my house before because I was living in total and complete fear that someone was coming to hurt us.
You thought that was okay.
I cringe every time I see a phone call come through as either ‘unknown’ or a number from your area code. THIS is the reason I had so many phone number changes. You’ve scared the absolute hell out of me and caused panic and anxiety within me. I have restraining orders and no trespass orders on my property and I’ve dealt with massive amounts of crisis workers. Things I *never* thought I would experience in my lifetime became a norm for far too long.
You cheated on me, too. And who truly knows how many times. Yet, you would project this onto me and make up the most ridiculous stories and some people fully believed you. My truth was never out there, and nor do I care to get into the ‘he said, she said’ but you caused some serious internal damage that I’m still working on to this day. I believed I was a monster for the longest time and I even second-guessed some of the untruths you spat about me. (gaslighting, anyone?) I heard about the Christmas party when you bragged to the guys about ‘knocking up your wife and potentially your new girlfriend.’
You’ve thrown me around. You’ve left marks. You screamed so loud at me that a 3-year old was constantly asking “why does Daddy roar at you like a lion?” And I stayed. I tried to help. I ended up growing angry and eventually just ran out of love and patience. I found my backbone and I’m making the life I want. Finally.
But the repercussions are real. I’m sure yours are too. I don’t know what your life looks like these days but I’d like you to know what your choices have done to the family you abandoned. You left us in complete turmoil. I’ve taken 3 out of 5 kids to a child psychiatrist to help work through their emotions. The twins literally just have no idea who you are so they don’t need to go. You’ve left me drained. You left it all on my plate.
I’m stronger than you think I am and I’m doing it- not because I have to- but because these are my babies and I will do anything and everything I can for them. I have the best support system know to mankind, and they are surrounded by 2 strong male influences whom I love dearly. They’re growing up in a healthy environment and even though I am completely exhausted and financially strained? I won’t stop bettering my life in order for them to have the best.
So, the next time I get wind that you’re ‘doing well,’ and seem normal? I’ll swallow my pride, smile and respond with ‘thats so great.’ Because it is great that you’re doing so well. But to me? You’re a deadbeat and someone who has thrown my life into a whirlwind. You have contributed to my stress load and have made me feel inadequate. You put your responsibilities on me and even though I persevere, there are days when I feel completely overwhelmed and upset. I don’t get a minute off. But I take comfort in knowing that I don’t miss a minute with these kids. And that’s enough for me.
I don’t take addiction lightly and I believe in support and help. I’m all for lending a hand to the homeless and keeping empathy for each and every individual. They all have a story. But I felt like today was a good day to bring light to what addiction does to a family. So, while you’re helping the next one get back on their feet, it’s probably not a terrible idea to check on the family. Because they’re suffering, too.