Did Your Heart Break For Your Children When You Left?
An open inquisition to my ex-husband
When you walked out the door that night, knowing you were walking out forever, did it at least break your heart for your children?
You came home from your business trip, the one where you had a chance to finalize your plan with the mistress I knew nothing about, and obliterated life as we knew it.
You plotted the end of your whole family unit. You conspired with her to create a new life, one that you felt would be better. For you.
Your time spent wooing another woman made you fail to see the depth of your wrong. It was the kind of wrong you just can’t make right.
I think you naively imagined that life with your children would be status quo.
I think you stupidly thought that we would all get over it and the new life everyone would find would be just as good if not better, and we’d all move on to the other side of heartbreak in short order.
No harm, no foul. Right?
I think your unhumble self believed you had thought it all out, and you overconfidently deemed it all a situation that was manageable. But if you were honest with yourself now, you’d see you fell short. You’d never admit that, but we can clearly see that all the feelings your daughters have aren’t exactly copacetic.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
I want to know when you showed up in the driveway to pick up your 4- and 7-year old in your now not-family car, did you get that first taste of bitterness in your mouth?
Like the crappy feeling of a hangover, did you wake up to your newly chosen life with feelings you hadn’t truly bargained for?
When you took your daughters back to your bachelor pad in a part of town you wouldn’t live in a week ago, did you get that ill feeling of going backwards in time? Did you feel the pain of the cut you gave yourself by scrapping the life and family you had worked for all those years?
Did you feel that slap on your face when reality kicked in, and you found yourself without me to handle all the kid stuff? You know, like wiping butts and bathing kids and all the stuff you weren’t so hands-on about?
You had 24 hours with your children. It was the first time you’d ever been alone with them for that much time. In fact it was about 21 hours more than you had ever strung together in childcare before.
I know at first SHE wasn’t there to buffer the blow of what it takes to entertain and care for your children by yourself. You only kept them for one night, so you only had a tiny taste of solo-parenting. Did you feel that boredom? That isolation? That impatience of everything not going your way? That heavy responsibility?
Did you keep track of how often you kept them by yourself? Cause I did. You had them a total of 5 nights by yourself until SHE flitted to your side to rescue you from single fatherdom.
And when you brought them back home to me, to a home that was no longer to be yours, and they got out of the car, did your heart break at all? Even just a little?
Or did you feel relief?
When you said your daddy-goodbyes and drove away, did the actuality of what you did to our family ever, ever hit you with heart break or sadness or anything?
Did you ever shed a tear of remorse?
Did you feel anything?
My heart broke when you left. It broke more when you picked our kids up that first time. And it broke every time you came to pick them up for the next 12 years.
It was the worst feeling. For me it was like an appendage was missing. Like a part of my very being was gone when they were gone. My heart broke every time my daughters would talk about life over there. It kept breaking every time I could see their little souls were being shaped by the misshapen family unit I never asked for or ever expected to have.
And now that we’re 20 years past that first time you came to pick them up, do you have any regrets? Back then did you foresee where we are today? Was this one of the visions you had played out in your head as being a consequence of your actions?
Do you now see all those missed opportunities you had to see your children on extra weeknights, and summers and various vacations, but you chose not to?
Damn, you could’ve made things so much better, if you had just tried harder.
I didn’t keep you from your kids.
You had so many chances to make deeper bonds and closer relationships, but instead of taking the lead, you shrank. You could’ve figured out how your children needed to be loved, but you didn’t. Your pride got in the way. Your narcissism wouldn’t let you see that you were wrong.
You gave up.
You retreated to feeling you were right and everyone else’s feelings were wrong. When the struggle got real, you decided the nitty gritty was too cumbersome to navigate, so you quit.
Just like the coward you were to cheat on your wife, you became a coward at parenting.
And yet from your children you somehow still expect a nice little realtionship with a neat little bow of understanding and forgiveness.
I thought you were so much better than what you turned out to be.
Oddly enough I’m able to see beyond your flaws. Like the apathy you had for your marrriage, I now have for you as a parent.
I can see the sum of your parts that puts it all in perspective for me. I believe that you did the best you could do with what you had.
See, I was always told to try my best. So I did. But your best isn’t the same as my best, and that’s the difference.
Your childhood defined you with your own share of traumas, and while yes, as an adult you can grow and move forward, I just don’t think you had enough tools in your toolbox to be any better than you are today.
My wish is for my children to see that and understand that, and be able to reconcile the less-than father with a man who just isn’t capable of being more, and move on with their hearts.
They need to slap some glue on that jagged, little, broken piece of their hearts, shove it back into place, and carry on. It’ll never fit perfectly. But it’s not worth any more trouble.
I just wanna know if you had any real feelings. Did your heart ever break from what you did to our family and our children?
Did you ever feel anything?