He abandoned our daughters but I’m the one feeling guilt and shame.
We were married for 20 years. I thought we had a fantastic marriage. That is until he expressed his unhappiness and desire for a divorce. Him wanting to leave the marriage took a toll on myself and our two daughters.
He was a kind and carrying husband and father. I had NO complaints about the marriage and, I definitely had no complaints about his relationship with our daughters. He adored them. Treated them with such gentleness and love. And, they both thought he hung the moon.
My ex never missed one of our daughter’s school functions, dance recitals or anything else they were involved with. He was a hand’s on father, truly committed to being what he thought his children needed from him to know that they were loved by him.
He changed as many diapers as I did. He did as many feedings as I did. He did bedtime stories, not me. I used to sit on the front porch and watch as he walked them to the neighborhood park, gently holding their hands and completely enthralled in his girls and what they were saying and seeing.
The luckiest girls in the world.
I thought the three of us, my daughters and I, were the luckiest girls in the world. He went out of his way every day to make use feel loved and adored. In return, we saw him as our hero and returned that love and adoration.
And then he was gone. Just like that, he was gone. When he left he said it was, “his time.” His time to choose how to live his life. His time to get some enjoyment out of life. His time to take back control of his life.
When he left me, he abandoned our daughters. I think that is why, 12 years later, I’m still unable to fully recover. He hurt our girls. If he had only hurt me, I’d be OK. But, he hurt our girls. He shattered them and the very foundation they’re little lives had been built on.
He hasn’t seen or spoken to our oldest daughter in 11 years. She is a new mother, has a baby girl of her own now. He didn’t come to her high school or college graduation. He didn’t respond to the invitation she sent him to her wedding 4 years ago. And, hasn’t responded to the birth announcement she sent him 6 months ago. How can she draw any other conclusion that he doesn’t care?
And, in reality, probably never cared.
He saw our youngest daughter for the first time since our divorce 4 years ago. After 8 years of no-contact, he showed up to her college and wanted to take her out to dinner. At dinner, she asked him where he had been. Why he had not stayed in contact with her and her sister. He told her that he would not have their dinner “marred” by unpleasant topics of conversation.
No explanation owed.
He abandoned our daughters but doesn’t feel they are owed an explanation. Who does that? What kind of father is able to walk away as if he never had children? I think if I could find answers to these questions, I could understand. Or, at the very least have a reason and, having a reason would help me let go of my desire to gut him and I could move on.
He hurt our girls, though. After I encouraged them to love and trust him, he hurt them. After I played a role in them believing he was a good father, he hurt them. And, I carry the burden of what HE did. I feel the shame of what HE did.
I feel it so deeply at times I want to curl into a ball and disappear. When push comes to shove, my daughter’s pain began with me. I’m the one who chose HIM to marry. I’m the one who chose HIM to have children with. I’m the one who set this whole mess in motion.
I don’t have issues with forgiving him. I’m able to forgive him because only someone desperately sick could do what he has done to our daughters.
How do I forgive myself, though?
How do I get rid of the shame and guilt of being the one who chose HIM?