Tag Archives: deadbeat dad

The Capacity of Hurt


It’s amazing how I can still be hurt.

The bizarre thing is that I can take the hits. I can take someone not liking me, someone being ugly to me.

Bring my kids into it? Yeah, it’s a whole ‘nother ballpark.

So I thought I was pretty immune to being hurt by the ex. Really, I just am numb toward him.

It’s just that I feel hurt when I realize he does nothing to meet the needs of the children – my children. Well, perhaps “nothing” is too strong. But it’s when I think about what  would do for my children and I build any expectation for what they should be getting from him, I open myself up to being hurt.

It’s stupid.

I know it’s stupid.

I still do it.

I think I would have gotten a second job to be able to send child support and gifts. I would have stayed in touch, writing letters or emails as well as calling. I would have pursued a relationship with my children if I were separated from them. I would send them stickers and books and cards and Skyped and done everything I could to be present in their lives if I were living in another state.

Basically, I would fight for my children.

And seeing that they are just not that important to their own biological father hurts me.

What has he done?

  • He sent a couple letters.
  • He sent a few emails.
  • He sent a couple of birthday presents.
  • He sent a couple of Christmas presents.
  • He said he wanted to call on Christmas last year.
  • He sent the paperwork for the girls to get their passports.
  • He flew in for his mother’s birthday party and saw the girls three times over the weekend.
  • His paycheck gets docked automatically for about 1/4 of the child support he owes each month.

So, it’s not as though he’s truly done nothing; it’s that he doesn’t do enough.

I need to let go of expectation. I need to free myself from thinking about his actions as any reflection of my own value system. I need to pray. I need to continue to facilitate any reasonable interaction the girls want to have with him. And I need to put this all out of my mind and focus on the good things in my life. It’s just hard to keep it out of your mind when the time rolls around to inform him about medical support reimbursements that he owes. So I need to just quickly do it and then put it out of my mind again. Like a colonoscopy.


What kind of a man?


I now have the answer.

It’s been the question (other than my favorite: What was he thinking?) that everyone’s asked me over the past two years.

What kind of a man abandons his wife and children?

And now I have the answer: a coward.

I didn’t know this, know this, deep down in a visceral way until I saw him this weekend.

I had been dreading this visit for almost two months. He had moved out of the state, he had stopped all communication except occasional responses to my emails, and he hadn’t visited for 13 months. But then his mother had to go and have an 80th birthday. And want a big party. With all her kids. And grandkids. And she asked me, specifically, in person, to be there.

I didn’t want to go. I don’t like any of his family. I don’t particularly like his mother. But part of me really wants to be a “nice” person. “Nice” people show up when they are invited, bring food and a gift, are pleasant, and stay an appropriate amount of time. Part of me really, really didn’t want to be nice.

So I started by emailing Robert to ask if he was going to be there.

And that’s when the typical shitstorm hit.

Why? Would you let me take the girls?

Um. No.

Not only no, but hell no.

You see, he disappeared on me, abandoned me and two little girls under the age of ten, didn’t write, call, or try to contact us. Took his money and ran with no warning. You think I’d let him have access to those same two little girls without me being there, watching like a hawk?

But, if you are a rational-minded person, you would deduce that I asked because I was interested in arranging visitation on the chance that he would make an effort to be at his mother’s milestone event.

Turns out, he wasn’t planning on being there at all. Not until I rattled his cage by asking him if he was going.

But he couldn’t straight-up tell me that. Instead, he answered with questions, went on a tirade, call me names, and was yellling in email. Yeah, that’s the way to score points with the mother of your children.

Anyhow, push came to shove, and he finally decided to buy tickets and fly down. In his emails (he only ever emails, by the way), he expressed that he wanted to spend as much time as possible with the girls, and that he would be in town through Tuesday. I let him know that taking so long to tell me his plans meant that I’d already made some plans – it was Halloween weekend, after all – and so we could swing the birthday party and maybe lunch on Sunday. After that, we’d play it by ear.

The birthday party rolls around. On the way there, I tell the girls that Robert will be there. I had saved that tidbit of information so that they didn’t build anything up in their heads about seeing him again. I let them know that I had contacted him a few weeks previously to find outif he’d be there so that they could see them. My older daughter took that with a nod. My younger daughter put two and two together and said, “Is he the one you were emailing who made you so mad and sent you mean emails?”


“I’m sorry. You weren’t supposed to know about that.”

“It’s okay, Mommy. I’m glad I know.”

I set down some ground rules: You can say whatever you want. You can ask whatever you want. You get to choose the level of interaction you are comfortable with. You are in control of you. You must remain within five feet of me so that I can overhear conversations and simply know what was said. (I had to put in that last one because Robert takes the truth and twists it to his ends, bless his little sociopathic heart.)

We got there, and it went smoothly. I didn’t even feel the least bit violent toward him. I realized that I could avoid almost all need to have conversation by the simple expedient of not making eye contact with anyone but my kids and my husband, my wonderful husband who went with me to support me seeing this enclave of lunatics. As we left, I confirmed a lunch with Robert the following day.

We show up at the McDonald’s at the appointed time, and the same ground rules are in effect. Lunch proceeds smoothly, and the girls run off to get ice cream, and then play in the play area. My husband goes to supervise.

Robert and I sit there across the table from each other, me cocked back, relaxed, staring into his face.

And he can’t make eye contact.

All his bravado, all his bluster, gone.

And he cannot bring himself to hold any real conversation with me.

And he gets up and leaves to go watch the girls in the play area.

And it hits me: he is a coward.

Here he has this one perfect chance, this one quiet moment that he can say anything, and he slinks off. He chickens out and runs away.

Now it also struck me listening to the girls try to talk to him that he had no idea how to really talk to the girls any more. He was so wrapped up in his own sociopathic self that he missed all the verbal cues the girls were giving him, all the conversational bait that they were proffering to try to get him to show a genuine interest in their lives. He just glossed over the things that they were sharing, the things that were profoundly important to them there, that day. And instead, he talked about his “invention,” an aluminum fire fighting suit that is just another of his crazy crackpot ideas. Last year it was flying cars and jet packs. And he talked to them about getting to spend the night in hotels in Las Vegas because the rental truck company he works for flies him out to drive the trucks back to Utah. But did he ask about anything my girls were trying to get him interested in?

For that matter, did he offer to buy them ice cream? Did he offer to buy them lunch? Did he bring them anything? Any token? Any trinket? Anything?


We met again for dinner Monday night, an hour drive for me, Fifteen minutes for him. I picked the place; I wanted to go somewhere I’d never want to go again, and this place was pretty close to my husband’s brother’s house, so it was more convenient to ask him to come since my husband was out of town on business.

Again, things went smoothly. The girls were entertained by their nephew, and Robert was entertained by my brother-in-law. And it was fine. Fine until Robert started talking about the new math curriculum in schools and had the temerity to say that was why he was no longer teaching. My bullshit meter fell off the wall, screaming a bloody death. I don’t remember exaclty how I reacted. I just know that I ended by saying, “I get about a hundred million points just now for not saying anything.” And I was gratified to see the look in Robert’s eyes. The look like I’d just shown him a ghost, punched him in the gut, and yanked the rug out from underneath him. Because the truth of the matter is he was no longer teaching because he walked away from his jobs, all of his teaching jobs, the moment he was expected to work hard to actually teach. Well, except for the teaching job he lost because he was ticketed for drug paraphrenalia possession. I at least did not call him out in front of my kids for being a dirty, rotten liar.

Before that, he dropped the bombshell that he wasn’t going to be available Tuesday after all. I guess seeing his kids three times was enough for him. I guess that made up for thirteen months of absence in his world. Because the rotten thing is that they knew, they knew, that he was in town, not leaving until Wednesday. That if he wanted to make it a priority to see them, I would have brought them. And he pulled out. A coward and a cheapskate liar.

So, what kind of a man abandons his children? A coward. A yellow-bellied coward with fear in his eyes and lies in his teeth.

Responding to a Sociopath


Ever heard the phrase like oil and water? Oil and water never really mix. Oh, sure, they can be shaken up into such tiny globules that they look completely and wholly integrated with each other, but, given time, they separate out into visible splotches. Given enough time, one rests on top of the other, separate and apart.

It’s the same with a sociopath and reality. When a sociopath puts on the charm and shakes things up, it can appear that person has completely integrated with reality; they looked really well blended. But over time? Over time you see how the sociopath pulls away from reality, separates into occupying another space.

The best part is that they can do this on their own. So long as you don’t feed the belief that they are truly present in reality, you will begin to see how their stories contradict themselves, how they write their own reality to be some kind of oily mimic of the truth. Sure, they might still be able to incorporate some aspects of the truth – the best liars always do. If they’re truly good, they can make you question the truth, make you still see the blend when it’s just a sham.

They start with something to get you fired up, to make you not really look at things rationally, to respond emotionally.

Then they play into your emotions, telling you how unfair life is, how misunderstood they are, implying that you drove them to their own particular sociopathy.

Then they might compliment you, make you feel as though there is some validity to what they’re saying, because, hey, who doesn’t want to believe a compliment – especially when it’s true?

And then they slam you again with insinuations, dancing surefootedly around the truth so that they cannot be accused of outright lying.

If they want something out of you, this is when they strike.

This is when they make a demand or request, hoping you might rise up to the bait, responding to all the little emotional jabs and slights they’ve so skillfully used over the course of communicating with you.

By this point, you are an emotional wreck. You are averse to any contact with them, but they’ve drawn you in. Perhaps it was a need to defend the truth, perhaps to defend your own ego, perhaps because you were stung and want to get something back.

You won’t win this.

The only way to win is to know that no matter what you say, it won’t make a difference. That the only reason you would respond is to document the truth, but not to convince the other person of it.

The only way I’ve found to get some satisfaction out of it all is to respond as briefly and factually as possible. If there’s no outright question asked, leave the insinuations alone. The shorter your response to their impassioned tirade, the better. There is no prize here for verbal sparring. The best you can hope for is documentation in a calm, rational tone. They win when you give in to the temptation to put in a dig, however justified. Unless you just need to document that you’ve negated a comment, they win when you deign to acknowledge an insinuation or accusation. Demands? Unless they’ve specifically asked that you respond to their request, the best way to frustrate a sociopath is to ignore. They feed off the drama and confrontation and manipulation and control. They will get all of that if you give in.

If you have no legal ties to them, block them. Don’t respond.

If you are court-ordered to have some contact with them, keep it on topic, civil, unemotional, and back yourself up with documentation. Dates, times, quotations – any data you have. This is not to convince them. It’ll never happen. Their version of the truth is so skewed it’s a Gordian knot. This is to support you. This is your ballast against the waves of oily lies splashing at you.

Lastly, sit on it.

Give yourself all the release of responding to the sociopath on some kind of media that you cannot accidentally send. Write everything you’re thinking, acknowledge all of your emotions.

Then sit on it.

Go through it with a fine tooth editorial comb and extract the nits of emotion, the wordiness of your response, any indication that you care. Take the moral high ground. Keep it short, factual, and civil. And at the end, wish them well.

That’ll bug the ever-loving shit out of them.

Bailey’s Irish Cream is Always a Good Idea


At this point, I have NO idea how much alcohol I have consumed.  Suffice to say, enough that I allowed my children to stay up until 10:30 pm without me pitching a fit, and still playing Settlers of Catan with them.

Apparently, Bailey’s Irish Cream is a GOOD THING.

It sounded appealing.  I mean, when we got out of yoga and out of the gym tonight, it sounded good enough that I was willing to make a liquor store stop for some.  And that’s when I realized I’d left my debit card at the house. Cue the theme music, because that’s when Fiancé Man came to the rescue.  He offered to run in and buy the Irish Cream I requested.  (At the time, I had no idea it would only come in a 1.75 Liter bottle at $50)

So we got back to his house and the girls and I settled in to let them have some warm milk and me have some Bailey’s.  It was somewhere in the neighborhood of 9:15pm.  And at 9:50, I called it as time to stop the game at 10:00.  And then I kind of really enjoyed the Bailey’s and decided that it was maybe a good night for us to keep playing just a few more minutes while I refreshed my glass.

And then I noticed that my younger daughter hadn’t finished her milk yet, so it was a good enough reason to still have some company while I sipped my Bailey’s.

And then it was Time To Go To Bed.  And my glass was empty. Sadness.

But there was still a whole giant Costco bottle of Bailey’s right there on the counter. And I was Doing Dishes so I deserved a Reward. Full glass. Bonus.

And then snacks sounded like a good idea. So far, I have had almond butter, almonds covered in burnt caramel and dark cocoa powder, plantain chips, a caramel chocolate robin’s egg, a couple of pecans, almonds, and Brazil nuts, and another happy spoonful of almond butter.  I  have officially decided that the world is right when there is almond butter.  The world is even more right when you get to make the almond butter freshly ground at Whole Foods at the push of a button.  It’s SO MUCH FUN!  And then it tastes good, on top of the fact that you got to use a heavy-duty grinder like a mad scientist to fill a little plastic carton, all crunchy and smooth and rich and a hint of sweetness all at the same time.  I am ADDICTED.

My cup is now empty again.  Well, empty is a relative term.  It has ice cubes.  Hypothetically, if I wait long enough, they will melt and combine with the Bailey’s residue to create enough liquid to be sipped.  Either that, or I could pour myself just a teensy bit more, just enough to finish blogging, even around all my increasingly amusing typographical errors. 

Ah, that’s better.  A teensy bit more.  Fleshed out with more fresh ice cubes.

That makes me think about the wedding and the party.  How will we handle alcohol?  I mean, we both like to drink.  Not to excess (all evidence notwithstanding in this particular post), but we do enjoy a hearty adult beverage with good company.  I know some venues just charge per person on alcohol and you have to hire one of their bartenders.  I’m actually completely agreeable to that.  I just want it to be as hassle-free as possible and to have us all have a good time.  

And speaking of weddings, it may be crazy, but I was looking forward to selling the house I’d bought with my first husband because it looked as though this deal was going to go through where I would be able to sell the house and walk away with enough money to cover my high-interest debt.  I’ve been drowning under this house for the past five months what with repairs and house payments.  I’ve been renting it out, but the rental fees are only going to cover the cost of the sewer system and roof repairs I had to have done.  I’m supposed to have even been giving them more money on top of all that, but I’m tapped out.  

See, Robert, my first husband, decided he’d had enough with pretending to be a responsible adult and a high school physics teacher, so he “walked.”  Actually, he drove away from me and my kids without any warning, without any word, without any contact.  And he took his paychecks and cashed out his bank account and went to live with his mistress Lynette in Utah – and her kids, her husband, and her dad.  And Robert changed his name to Jack and started living a completely different life and created a new Facebook profile (because who can live without Facebook, I may ask) and decided that he only felt moved enough to try to contact me around major holidays – such as just before Thanksgiving, right at Christmas, cards for my daughters’ birthdays, mid-February (Valentine’s, perhaps?). He didn’t actually show up for any of the divorce proceedings – not for the temporary orders, not for the final decree.  The only time he drove through was when Lynette decided to visit her family, and he tagged along.  One thing and another, he missed seeing any of us because we were all out of town that week.  Okay, so that’s the sob story in a nutshell.  But the hard truth of the matter is that he has sent absolutely NOTHING in child support. Not. A. Dime. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Nothing to cover the children’s medical, nothing to cover child care, nothing to cover new clothes, nothing to cover food. So here I am stuck with a house that’s in my name with a loan in his name that is not transferable and nearly $1000 a month house payments on top of everything else.  Honestly, if i just didn’t have to fork over the house payment for that rental property, I’d be doing okay. But back in March the sewer system went out. Then in April the roof went out. And that was a total of nearly $10,000 I had to find. And that was on top of $4000 in taxes for the house I live in plus about $7000 in attorney fees. So in the course of six months or so, I lost my husband and his income, incurred debts nearly equal to 40% of my annual income, and have been scrambling to cut costs and reduce financial entanglements everywhere I turn. Did I mention that Robert hasn’t paid a dime of child support? That money would have been exceedingly helpful almost the whole time. But it’s a lost cause. There’s no way to get blood out of a turnip, and there’s no way to get money out of a deadbeat dad.

The important thing about all of this was that I was going to sell the one house to get myself on  solid financial footing. I was going to become the kind of person financially that I wouldn’t be afraid to marry.  I was looking at this financial deal as a kind of permission to go through with getting married to my fiancé because I didn’t want to have him supporting me. I didn’t want to be a drag on him financially. I wanted to bring something to the relationship, something tangible and of concrete value.

His argument is that I am bringing myself and my daughters to the relationship, that we complete his life and make him feel fulfilled by being with him and sharing in his life, pursuits, entertainments, and interests, that he has always wanted a family and he realized after a certain point that if he was ever going to connect with a woman, she would be divorced, she would have kids, and he would have a “ready-made” family. And somehow I was that woman.

Even knowing that he is completely supportive, even knowing that he would drop everything to come to my rescue, even knowing that he is my rock, I still feel as though the rug was ripped out from under me when this house deal fell through. I saw it as a way to validate myself and show that I am capable of taking care of my messes, that I don’t always need rescuing, that I am rock-steady in my own right. Instead, it was a day when he held me as my body was racked with gut-wrenching sobs, as I fought to pull myself together and get a new perspective, as I had to come to terms with more months of living lean and denying my kids some of the basic things they want and need in order to squeak by.  

Because regardless of how much he cares for us, I will not ask him to be the sole provider and breadwinner.  It may take me another month or two to get on my feet, but I will persevere.

Hell, I’ve lived through all of the bad days with 100% success rate so far; I might as well embrace the fact that I can live through more.

And, some nights, a glass – or two – or four – of Bailey’s might just help with that.