Smoke & Mirrors
Kaitlyn and Skylar,
Recently, MyBeautifullyBrokenLife wrote a blog post, entitled “Smoke and Mirrors,” which can be found here: Smoke and Mirrors. I had not planned on writing Part 2 so soon, but this post inspired me to do so.
During a walk with your mom the day she asked for a divorce, we agreed things would be amicable and came up with an agreement in principle on all major terms (including, custody). A few days later, we even sat the two of you down and explained how custody was going to work. Yet, the divorce proceeding was anything but amicable.
From the day the divorce was final, your mom and I had a custody agreement to follow — an agreement that in effect laid out the terms for each of us to have time with the two of you during your remaining childhood. Yet, again, reality was not as agreed upon between your mom and me.
Plain and simple, I am your father. Always have been and always will be.
When I first learned of Steve upon reviewing cell phone bills in late January 2014, I did not know what to make of it. The nature of his existence in your mom’s and your lives had been kept from me.
Less than a week later, I learned the two of you “knew” him during our afterschool snack at Starbucks, confirming what I suspected from the phone bills. Sky mentioned his name and the two of you looked at each other mortified and began to cry. Kaitlyn then asked for a do-over. Right then and there, I realized you felt the need to keep something from me — I had never known either of you to keep a secret from me before that moment.
As your father, I was devastated and, more importantly, deeply concerned for the both of you. I had no idea how you felt, and my heart ached for you, for me and for us. Just a few months earlier, if you were upset, troubled by something or crying, I could ask what was wrong, you would tell me without hesitation and we would work through things together. At night, after I read to you, we talked about things that were on your mind before you fell asleep. You were honest with me.
In that moment, I felt your confusion, your torn loyalties, your guilt, your pain and your love for me, coupled with all the emotions I was feeling as your father. But, all I could do was sit and watch, unless you opened up about it. I was not able to show you that I loved and cared for you the way you needed. I felt helpless.
Before you even had a chance to process what was going on in the divorce, you were trying to understand someone new in your lives. Someone who appeared to have been in your lives while your mom and I tried to mediate the divorce to no avail.
Introducing a new man to the two of you went against all the advice your mom and I had received from divorce “professionals” up to that point, let alone general parental common sense in such a situation. And, yet, I was powerless to speak to your mom because the mediation failed, we were headed to court and she was making choices that went against me being a part of your lives. I was also unable to talk to you about any of this if you were unwilling to bring it up, as I did not want to put the two of you in the middle of all the divorce strife anymore than you already were.
No one was being honest with me. Yet, I saw through the smoke and mirrors. Everyone seemed to see through the lies and deceit, too. Yet, the people involved in the divorce chose to look the other way and turn a blind eye to what was actually going on.
As a man, a lawyer, a parent and, most significant of all, your dad, I began to blame myself for everything that had, and was, happening. As someone who solves problems and issues for a living, I kept wondering: “Why has the divorce become such a mess?” The shame, the guilt and the hurt from being on the receiving end of such loathing, contempt, deceit and hatred, at times, felt almost too much to bear. But, your dad did bear it, all of it, because I love you.
I endured everything that got dished onto me, without breaking, knowing that others would have celebrated if I had. Every unanswered phone call, every unreturned text, every night when I looked at my watch — they won’t be calling me and I’ll try again tomorrow or the next day — because it is now too late, every tear you saw and, more importantly, the tears you didn’t, every prayer I have prayed for you, for me, for us and even for your mom and others, every conversation I have had about my love for you and the agony all of this has caused you, me and those that support and listen to me, and every other effort I have made to be in your lives and understand what was happening…. none of these things worked to change things for the better.
In fact, in the end, much of this worked against me and against our relationship. The more I tried, the worse things became. The lies did not end. The truth continued to be denied, masked and altered.
It was not until this past Spring that I realized just how strong the forces that want me out of your lives really are and to what lengths they are willing to go to achieve such goal. Know that I never chose to be your father, but not be in your lives. Rather, others have made that choice themselves.
Since before the separation and divorce through the present, I have been striving to be your father under the terms your mom and I agreed upon at various times. However, the whole time, I have had to live with a different set of rules: your mom’s terms.
This has been like playing a game of checkers against someone who is treating it like a game of chess. A better analogy is that it is like playing a game with someone who wants to win at all costs by using every means of cheating possible without getting caught (or lying their way out of it if you catch them cheating). No one likes to play a game that’s unfair…. that is, unless you are the person making the game unfair.
….With the permission of MyBeautifullyBrokenLife, I am taking a few paragraphs from her November 16, 2017 post, and modifying them to end this post. Her words were so well-spoken, I could not express similar thoughts any better….
“God doesn’t desire that I strive forever.” ….
“He wants me to know that I wasn’t to blame [for everything that has happened or the way things have turned out]. I didn’t know just how heavy that burden has been. I have intellectually known it. I have talked about it. But…..in the end…..He desires that I know it in my very bones. I was not to blame for the choices made by [your mom, Steve, my parents and others]. I was not to blame, and I made the best decisions I could, given the smoke and mirrors…..the lies I was working under.” ….
“I can quit striving.”
“I can quit trying to control all this mess and all this sorrow and all this grief and this entire trauma.”
“I can let it go and walk away knowing that I did my best, and if others had made choices to be faithful and had repented and [meant it], I would have continued walking in relationship with them. I did what I could, and God wants me to know that I am free to walk completely away……..from it all. I am free, and He is pleased with me. I am free, and He loves me and holds onto me with tender, fatherly care.”
I’ll write, again, soon….
I’m here. Just a click away when the time comes that you want or need to reach me. Until then, I will go on living…. loving you from a distance…. and, waiting.
I love you, Kaitlyn and Skylar.