Before I had children, I always dreamed that my children would have a wonderful relationship with both me and their father. Given the close relationship that I have with my father, I could never have imagined a situation where I would NOT want my child’s father to have access to him/her. (Until now, of course)
Here is a quick example of how I felt about my father as a child and why I dreamed for my child to have the same: (This conversation took place as my father was tying my shoes.)
Young Cappuccino Queen (circa age 5): Daddy, when I grow up can I marry you?
My father (holding back laughter): No baby girl, I am already married to your mother.
Cappuccino Queen: But Daddy, I love YOU and I don’t think I will ever love another boy as much as I love you. You are perfect…you taught me to swim, you let me have Ice Cream for dinner one time, and you are really really tall so you give good back rides. (Yes, I know, silly)
My father: I will always be your Daddy baby girl, but one day you will find a man your age whom you love who will be YOUR husband. He will be wonderful too and he might be having this same conversation with your daughter someday.
For those of you who have read my story, you know that two weeks after my son was born I fled my ex’s home with my baby boy after learning that he wasn’t the man he led me to believe he was. Ever since the day I left, I have to constantly fight both my own instincts (of wanting my son to have what I had with my father -in his own father) and society’s belief that every child is better off having contact with their biological father. In fact, as many of you know too well, Family Court in America shoves this idea down our throats every time we have the misfortune of stepping into the courtroom. Those of us who share a child with a sociopath don’t have the ability to have “No Contact” with him/her. Instead, I would argue that we are re-traumatized every time we have to deal with this person (especially inside the courtroom) and this is how the sociopath likes it.
I have been trying to put my finger on what about the end of my relationship to this man made it so painful (besides the obvious deception, violence, etc). For me, it felt like a death I could never properly mourn. It felt like I had fallen in love with a memory or a figment of my imagination.
The violent death:
The night I learned who Luc (my ex fiance and sociopath) really was (or more like who he WASN’T) felt like a death. I remember looking into his eyes that night and seeing a stranger in the body of someone I had loved. It is hard to describe this feeling because it still scares and confuses me. I remember feeling like time slowed down as I reached for my son and looked into the eyes of this devil in human flesh. He had turned so dark and cold and that man I loved (the fake man) was now gone forever. In was as if in that one instant he decided he was tired of the game and I was the game. It was hard for me to understand how someone who had been convincingly professing his love to me just hours before could turn so cold and murderous.
In the weeks that followed my dramatic departure from my the relationship with the psychopath, I felt like the man I had loved (my sons father) died. This might sound strange, but that was all I could equate it to. I kept remembering how I felt about him and how much I trusted him. I wanted to speak to the man I loved, but I understood that I couldn’t because that man wasn’t around. It was like he had died – but worse – he had never existed. My thoughts about this “death” were worsened by my obsession of how I would one day explain all of this to my baby boy.
Mourning the death (or the inability to) and Family Court
I remember one day arguing with one of my family attorneys about how devastated I was and how I would never forgive Luc for deceiving me. My lawyer said, “think of it this way – there was a time when you were in love and happy. For Luc, he was never in love and never happy. He was always worried about keeping up the lie.” While I understand that he was only trying to make me feel better about the time I wasted with this man and the shattered dreams that I will never be able to recover, this statement also showed me that he didn’t really understand Luc.
Luc is a psychopath. Yes, I was a game to him and a mark; however, he didn’t worry about keeping the lie. Luc doesn’t feel how pathetic he is because he is incapable of understanding or believing that there is anything wrong with him. If I were a hateful person, I might take comfort in the fact that Luc is also incapable of sustaining real relationships. He has no family, no real friends, and doesn’t trust anyone enough to let them know the real him (if he even knows himself). That would be a lonely life for someone who was capable of feeling enough to care.
Finding comfort in the idea of a death:
Sometimes it makes me feel better to think of the situation as a death. When a person dies, you still have the ability to think of the good times you had with that person. It’s tough to think of Luc associated as anything good because I know it wasn’t real. That being said, when baby boy is old enough to understand and ask about his father, I will show him pictures of the day he was born and how both of his parents were there. I will explain to him how this was the happiest day of mama’s life. I will also explain to him how sad it makes me that his father isn’t capable of being the man I thought he was. For that day, however, we were the family we would never be – the family I wanted for my son. A mother, a father, and their baby boy. Mama is sorry, baby boy.
Hope after death:
For so many years, my idea of a father/son relationship was wrapped up in biology. Since this was my experience, I was devastated when I realized that my son would not have that same experience with his father. I felt terrible about this (and still do to a degree); however, I realized that my son can have amazing men in his life despite the terrible reality of his father.
When I came home today, I was surprised that my son was not waiting at the door smiling and doing his wiggle dance per usual. When I asked my mother where my baby boy had disappeared to, she directed me toward the back door and told me to go outside and see for myself. As soon as I stepped on the back porch, I heard my father having a seemingly one sided conversation with my non-verbal toddler as they stood under the berry tree eating blackberries. (Note: my son won’t take these sour berries from anyone else) After a few minutes of watching the two of them (and fighting back tears), I joined them for a group hug as we all walked back into the house. I looked at my son, who was now covered in berries and smiling from ear to ear, and I realized that he would be ok…and eventually…so would I.