If one were to try and analyze a narcissistic psychopath, or a cheating husband, or a deadbeat father, or any type of human with serious flaws, really, one would most likely find oneself concluding that the issue, of course, stems back to childhood.
Of course. Isn’t that why we’re all fucked up? Something that shaped us or imprinted itself on us in some way as a child, whether it be a traumatic experience, abuse, neglect, or a club on your school bus called the HCA (Hate Charlotte Association) that made the bullies of today look like a bunch of wimps (or is that just my experience?)
In any event, when I was married to PC, it was quite evident that there were underlying issues. He never truly articulated to me “what” exactly the issue was, only that it had to do with his father. He either spoke of him with regret and disdain for his lack of involvement (read: love) or he spoke fondly of his grandiose gestures or his sense of humor. But he never really used words that I could understand. Did he hate his father? Did he love him?
It’s hard to understand. I did not know his father. His mother speaks of him as most women will of their deceased husbands: with honor and loyalty and sites that he was a family man. When I asked his sister what had happened they seemed confused: well, they were always really close. This isn’t the story I was told. This isn’t what the opinions of other family members support…tales of his absence and disconnect. This is not what my own interactions with him, through my psychic medium friend (think what you will) support. He was a man who loved his family, but he was not a man who fostered actual connections, or relationships. He was not a man who was good at showing love.
One specific story that PC always spoke of, usually while drunk and maudlin, was of the time his basketball team won the state championship. The story changes all the time, as most men’s glory days sports memories do, but the one constant is that his father came to the game, and then left before it was over. To go to the track and place a bet on the ponies. And this was just…how he was. I bet that day he gave no thought, whatsoever, to how his son felt. After all, he showed up. Certainly, I doubt he thought that as a grown man his son would rehash this event in his head, when unencumbered by alcohol, as a defining moment in his life – a defining moment of abandonment, neglect, and lack of parenting.
Last night, my own son participated with his team (coached by none other than PC, in his Super Dad glory) in the play-offs for indoor soccer. My son is the worst player on the team. I fully admit this. But…he has improved much like the tortoise in the race…slow and steady. He’s made a few goals this season. He doesn’t spend the majority of the games on the bench anymore. And his role as a sub is also important.
Anyhow. We won the first game. We won the second game in a nail-biting Sudden Death overtime brought on by a penalty kick tie in the last 30 seconds. For youth sports, that’s a pretty hardcore game. After the game, the team gathered at the local ice cream joint to celebrate. There was also, of course, drama and awkwardness as I had been informed that the Trollup was also there, though she waited in the car (good. That’s where she belongs. Really, she had NO place at the celebration of MY CHILD’s team. None whatsoever.)
PC spent a grand total of ten minutes there. He glossed on his Super Dad cape and assisted both of our children in getting their ice cream. He made big, magnanimous displays of fist bumping this player or clapping that player on the back. He even hugged the other coach, which to know PC you understand how fake this is. And then my son sat with his teammates. My daughter ran and sat with my parents and I. The other coach, being a normal, social human being, made his way around the room, chatting with parents, joking with players, grabbing a few in rough bear hugs and at the same time interacting with his wife and baby girl.
And PC left. He put his phone to his ear (because of course. Always something more important on the other end of that phone) and walked out. He did not make eye contact with anyone. He said good-bye, sort of to the group as a whole, but no actual good-bye that I saw to either of our kids. Shortly after he left, two more players showed up. He literally left, to go to his Trollup, rather than celebrate with the team he coaches, his son’s team. His 9 year old son. His level of uncomfortability was so obvious. And when he left? No one even cared.
But I have to wonder. Will my son remember that? Will he remember winning the tournament play-offs in March of 2017 when he was 9 years old? Will he remember that his dad made an appearance at the celebration and then left? That he likely told him he was “on call” or “had to work” or maybe didn’t tell him anything at all, just left? Will this night stick out in his head as much as it will in mine–remembering my daughter’s giggles with her friend as they ate their ice cream or my father’s sarcastic comments about the other coach “Oh look! A coach! Interacting with his team!” in regards to PC’s absence. Or will it just be another night in a series of dissapointments? One of many moments when his dad wasn’t there? When he was Super Dad…the one who helped you pick out crazy ice cream toppings and, of course, paid for it, but couldn’t be bothered to just sit the fuck down and exist with you, for a half an hour, on a big night?
Why am I even writing about this? I don’t really know. Except in the grand list of lies, this might be one of the ones that hurts me the most. The lies he tells our children. The lies of how he presents himself as a father. The lies that will likely have a lasting impact, somehow, on both of my kids but in particular on this sensitive, intelligent, and precious 9 year old boy who needs his dad so bad, even if its half-assed and pathetic.
In the litany of lies, the greatest PC has ever told are the lies he tells himself about wanting what’s best for his kids…about putting his kids first. They’ve never come first and neither have I. And whereas I can move on (Jesus, can we get on with that already!) and fill the “husband” void someday, my children only have 1 father. They have a lot of wonderful male role models, and maybe someday they’ll have a kick-ass stepfather, but no matter what, there is only one man in the world who is their dad. And it just sucks.
And in the spirit of gratitude…I can only thank God that none of my issues stem from Daddy Issues. Mine was and continues to be the best in existence. And for that I am grateful.