- Family and Parenting
Why I Will Continue to Keep My Daughter From Seeing Her Father
We all enjoy having a drink at the end of a rough day. And a drink can be relaxing and just what you need to wind down. But what happens when that drinking becomes a reality every day? When it takes control of you and you no longer have control of it? I’ve read parenting blogs about everything you could possibly imagine, but if there is an article out there about alcoholism or addiction, I haven’t seen it. And I’ve felt compelled to write about my experience with it. Especially this past year.
I grew up with an alcoholic father. He was a functional alcoholic and held down a job, but when he was home and he could drink freely it was like waiting for the bomb to drop. What was going to set him off? He was never physically abusive to us, that I can remember and if he ever hit my mom I either didn’t see it or don’t remember it. But I spent most of my time during those fights trying to escape the screaming. I do have a memory of finding my mom after one of these fights, hiding in her closet, crying; hugging her and hiding with her until the storm had passed. Or he had passed out, I don’t remember. And when he wasn’t hateful, he was just a presence in the corner, in his chair watching TV, and smoking. There physically, but not mentally.
My mother eventually left him when I was a teenager and I remember saying to her “Thank God”. Don’t get me wrong. I love my dad, and we could have had it so much worse than we did. But, he was never really a father. He never attended sports events, or anything for that matter. He’s still an alcoholic, but he has mellowed out a lot as he’s gotten older. He’s not as hateful and I’ve even lived with him twice since then, but we all still battle with getting hurt every time he doesn’t show for something he was invited to, even though it’s all we’ve ever known.
I told myself when I was a teenager when I had kids they would never see either one of their parents like that. They would never have to have the life I had or possibly worse. So, when I found out I was pregnant by a guy I had already quit seeing and I knew drank more than I ever wanted my child to see, I battled with myself over telling him. Going back and forth over his right to know and my fierce instinct to protect my child from ever experiencing what I went through. We all want to protect our children from all anything bad, but most of all the bad that we ourselves have experienced.
I ended up telling him and the past 3 years have been a constant internal battle for me. When my daughter was 6 months old his drinking became more regular, when he quit his day job and started working at a bar. I told myself that he only got her once a week for a few hours and as long as he didn’t do it around her I couldn’t find fault with that. When she was 8 months old I picked her up from him, after his step mom had dropped her off, only to find him still bloody from the night before. He had gotten drunk, started a fight, and punched a mirror in his new girlfriend’s house. I told him I didn’t want her to keep seeing him like that and tried to move past it.
In the first year they were together he called me twice after he and his girlfriend fought, wanting to see her. Both times he ended up being wasted when I got there. I told him, no more. Next time I would turn around and leave, because she would not see him like that. In July 2015 she got pregnant and they got engaged in November 2015, and I was overjoyed. This, I hoped, would be his eye opener, because he didn’t really get to experience life with our daughter full time. Only, it wasn’t. His fiancé started turning to me about his drinking and he even admitted himself that he needed to get help. And I found out that the night I went into labor, he didn’t answer me until the next morning and barely made in time for them to break my water, because he was wasted and passed out when I called him. I told him several times if he would quit his job at the bar and just work his day job, I would not ask him for any money. His relationship with our daughter was more important to me than money. He wasn’t having it.
Then it happened again. He and his fiancé had been fighting since the night before and at their babyshower he got wasted. I was tempted to leave but I had told his fiancé that I would take everything they got back to their house since their vehicle wasn’t big enough and I didn’t want to leave her hanging. While unloading the presents he went to stand up from kneeling on the floor and almost fell on our daughter, then picked her up and almost ran into the wall with her. I watched in horror, too scared to say anything out of fear of how he might respond since he had a friend over. I waited for his friend to leave and told his fiancé I needed to talk to him; she responded “Be careful. He gets violent when he’s like this.” He was too drunk to stay awake while I talked, but I basically told him never again.
On my way home I decided he needed to go to AA and quit his bar job if he wanted to be able to see our daughter and messaged him before I went to sleep. Without a visitation agreement because he begged me to never take him to court I was legally able to keep her from him. I got no response and only threats and insults from him after tried to have a sober conversation with him. Three days later they got married and threw their September wedding out the window. Maybe they just wanted to be married when the baby was born, I don’t know. Though, to me it felt like he was moving on just fine without the daughter he already had and my heart hurt for her.
Two months went by before he approached me about seeing her with any kind of sense. The one time before that was threats and insults again. I agreed he could come over and see her and we talked about what he was going to do about his drinking problem. He agreed he’d go to AA and I didn’t ask him to quit his job and told him to come to her birthday party that weekend, at which, he asked me for some of the wine my sister was drinking. Coming from anyone else it wouldn’t have bothered me, but from him it did. I said nothing. The next time he got her I dropped her off at his house that morning and he was going to meet me at his Great Uncles viewing to give her back to me later in the day. When he showed up he reeked of alcohol and I overheard him ask someone where the closest ABC store was. Again, I said nothing. He didn’t get her on his own anymore after that though. I made excuses for me to always be there at times he had the new baby and couldn’t get wasted.
So when he called me and said he wanted to see her and had only had one beer to drink, but knew I didn’t want him coming around like that anymore I said it was ok as long as it had only been one. He lived an hour away and by the time he got to my house to see her he had stopped numerous times, getting a beer each time, and was wasted. Being afraid of how he would react and not wanting her to see him like that I put her down for a nap and let him sleep it off without saying anything. The next day he was arrested for a hit and run and DWI with a BAC level of over .20 and scored himself an ankle bracelet and bi-weekly drug tests. It was at this time that I learned from his boss that he had been caught doing coke at work and given a warning.
He admitted his drug issues to me, as well as selling them again, which I already had a feeling he was doing. Yes, again. With new drug test and ankle bracelet I continued with the supervised visits. One morning he called me and said his wife had kicked him out and said he’s give me money to help him move. I needed to money and put my last $10 in my truck to go help him. On one of our trips he did coke while we were waiting in the car for him. It was all in his nose and totally obvious. I knew he had just had a drug test the day before and looked up how long it took coke to be out of your system, then I confronted him about it and he willingly admitted he had. Which also means he had it in my vehicle.
It was two weeks before he attempted to see her again because he “needed time”. That morning he texted me trying to move it to the next day because, they might need him at the bar. I told him I couldn’t because I had plans and he didn’t respond to any of the texts I sent after that. I showed up at his house at our agreed time and he wasn’t there. His grandfather said he’d been home at 6:00 that morning, then left. So I waited 30 minutes, sent him a message saying I was done, and left. He called me on my way home and said he was at a girls house and had been home so his ankle bracelet could communicate with the base. So basically he went home and left to go to a girl’s house and turned his phone off so he wouldn’t have to answer me on seeing his daughter. I let him have it over everything. The drugs, the alcohol, his lack of regard towards our daughter, everything. Then I told his wife he was doing coke. I would have felt awful if I didn’t tell her and something happened to the baby while he had her.
It’s been almost a year since that happened. I didn’t hear anything for months after that. I changed my number and blocked him on all social media. I managed to keep track of him and questioned whether he was getting better frequently, but he’s only gotten worse. He and his wife got back together and split up again. He apparently doesn’t get to see the baby and has started trying to see my daughter again recently, using my best friend and sister as messengers, but I refuse to acknowledge him. I will do everything I can to protect my daughter from getting hurt until a court order makes me send her with him. Aside from the drugs and alcohol, he disappeared on her and I don’t want her to get close to him again and him disappear again. This time she would be old enough to wonder why and ask questions. I know she’s going to have questions anyway, but at least I can tell her I did everything I could to make sure she had a relationship with him and try to explain things to her in a way that doesn’t portray him as someone she shouldn’t love and maybe have a relationship with when she is old enough to make her own decisions. Even if he did get help now, I still don’t know if I would trust him. Addiction doesn’t just go away for good. It’s a lifelong battle and he has to be willing to get help for it. Children need their parents, but not if one or even both are going to do more harm than good.