Unfortunately what you say is true. I know many good, decent men who want to be a part of their children’s lives but because things didn’t work out with their mother, in most of their cases, she was bitter about that fact and used the children as a tactic to get back at them. A type of “you don’t want to be with me, then you won’t be with them,” tactic.

I think we live in a time when all men are stereotyped as “the bad guy,” when it comes to ending relationships with a significant other. Dad’s who want to be there for and with their kids have to fight twice as hard than the mother does for that right. As a society we don’t give enough credit to the dad’s who are in fact great parents.

As for my story, it is entirely true and this is the first time I’ve ever written about bio- dad or shared it outside our family other then friends who have witnessed it. I’m not sure if it’s shame or to protect my children but it’s not something I easily speak of.

If I could make it different I would but I only have control over myself and how I react to his actions and at times it’s a challenge not to react. I wish he would have gotten the help he needs over the years. There’s a part of me that feels compassion for him and the suffering he experiences daily from his disease. There’s also the other part of me that we were just another obstacle he destroyed along his path.

As for my daughter there have been a select few I have spoken with over the past several months. I’ve written vague stories and published them on Medium. I thought I might die when she took off. I felt like I died. I know she is in the safest place she can be right now and I’m grateful for that.

She recently told me she feels as if she’s standing at the bottom of a mountain and will never make it to the top. I told her I know right now it may feel as if she’s at the bottom looking up at the top but that’s actually a good place to be. It means she can see the top of the mountain and as I’ve learned throughout my lifetime it takes one step at a time to reach the highest peak.

Newspaper reporter in Eastern Iowa. The views expressed are mine alone.

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