Friday, November 16, 2007

Wanna Hear a Sad Story?

My oldest daughter was born in 1989, a few months after I turned 21. Her father is someone with whom I had a casually tempestuous relationship; we were no longer together. The reasons we broke up during my pregnancy were simple: I can't tolerate being upstaged by addiction.

I only blamed him for specific things he did, not for his addiction problems. He comes from a long line of alcoholics and had a tragic childhood. That's something we bonded over, actually, but I don't have experience with alcoholism and drug addiction and couldn't understand, cope or help him in any real way.

Being a single mother is so hard, even without the burden of stigma. I had a very supportive family and did my absolute best to give her a normal, happy, beloved childhood. When she was an appropriate age, I told her more about her dad (not in a vindictive way, mind you) and warned her about the burdens that children of alcoholics and addicts face in their own lives. I'm sure it was a bizarre discussion, seeing that she didn't remember her father or known any addicts in her young life.

I heard from him now and then — he even moved to our town for a year or so. Of course I arranged visitations but had to end them when I found my kindergartener playing with a bong. He left soon after and I heard he'd been arrested for trying to sell dope to an undercover cop. I despaired for my daughter, who looks so much like him and showed signs early on that she'd inherited his fiery Irish temper and stubbornness.

Then, when Trouble Jr. was in Jr. high, her dad appeared again. He spent time with her, took her shopping, and introduced her to her aunts and cousins, who were driving him from one coast to the other. They wanted to take Trouble Jr. with them. I checked first to see if my body was dead and then told them, "No." They pleaded, argued and threatened, but there was no way in Hell I was giving in. We didn't hear from her dad after that episode.

Now she's a freshman in college. She wants to know more about her dad, get in touch with him and get to know him. I happen to know the world's greatest private detective, so I asked him for advice. He took time out of his no doubt busy snoop business and found some phone numbers. I am hopeful.

Want to know what attracted me to this guy? It was a house party in 1988, and I was there with my roommate at the time, a free spirit named Careen. I'd hurt myself in dance class and was gimping around on crutches. In walks this 6'4" man in shorts and a polo shirt, dragging on a cigarette and talking loudly to his friend. He looked over at me and then knocked over a few people on his way to my chair. He smiled this gigantic Cheshire Cat grin and tried to dazzle me with his brilliant blue eyes. He said something incredibly stupid and offensive that involved the word "cripple". I was completely charmed.

18+ years later, I believe I've learned my lesson about charming cads! (Yes, it took that long)

Anyway, darlings, please keep Trouble Jr. in your thoughts, and wish for her that she finds her dad and that he is good to her. Thank you.



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