Northwest Native: One less thank you note.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

One less thank you note.

I sat down to write thank you notes and consulted the spreadsheet we created to keep track of the gifts we received. Near the top was his name, next to a pretty generous gift, considering he's never had a whole lot of money. I was filled with dread. "Do I have to write him a thank you note?" Michael immediately responded, "No, of course not."

The man I'm talking about is my father. My siblings and I have always had a complicated relationship with him, but recently it turned in to no relationship at all.

My parents divorced when I was less than a year old. I have no recollection of ever living with him full-time. My brothers are about eight years older than me and five years older than me, so they do have some memories from that time. My mom easily won full custody of us with him getting us every other weekend, but no overnight stays for me until I was three.
I won't get into why they got divorced, because it isn't really my story to tell. I will say, I didn't know why they got divorced (and don't remember ever wondering, surprisingly) until I was probably eight, ten, somewhere around there. My oldest brother offhandedly mentioned it and I remember saying, "That's why they got divorced?!" My brother was surprised that I hadn't known.

It has continued like that, with me learning more and more about their marriage over the years. The more I learn, the more I realize just how bad it was, and what kind of person my father really is.

As a child, I liked going to see him on the weekends. My parents being divorced was never upsetting to me, because I didn't remember them being married, my mom never showed any animosity towards my father, and my mom met, dated, and married my dad [in technical terms, he was my stepdad, but he's always been my dad, for those of you that are new here] when I was so young. It basically just meant that I had an extra dad [I used to call my father that] who lived in a different house.

Then I started to grow up...but my father didn't see it. I remember that he wanted to take me to a movie...and he chose Piglet's Big Movie. It was 2003, I was thirteen. I did not want to see that movie, and I was irritated that he was treating me like a baby.

Around Thanksgiving last year, I learned of something my father had said when my mom got pregnant with me. "We already have two kids. You're only supposed to replace yourselves, anything else is excessive." He didn't want me. I was shocked that he would've said that when my mom was pregnant. And then my brother said, "He said it after you were born too." That was really the last straw for me. My brothers have both clung to a relationship with him, but I kind of wrote him off in November.

So, a month later, on Christmas, he calls to chat. He tells me he's moving to Thailand. My father is bipolar, so he has his manic and depressive episodes. He was definitely manic at this point. He went on a trip with my brother for two weeks and they spent all of five days in Thailand, and suddenly he was going to move there. I was all for it. Sure, move to Thailand so I can spend Christmas Eve with my real family instead of with you.

My brothers were adamantly against it, because he's completely clueless (he doesn't understand the culture there; had my brother not been with him on their trip, he would've been scammed, no doubt). They had an intervention with him, but I made sure not to be there at the time. It didn't work. [Turns out he wanted to move there because he was on Thai dating websites. He even sent a woman he was chatting with a laptop so they could video chat...think he heard from her again? No.]

He was going to go to Thailand for five weeks to scope it out, then return and get everything in order before moving. Then he got some health news. He called to tell me about it, and when I hung up I talked to my mom. Turns out, he wasn't even going to tell me. His exact words to my brother were, "I'm not going to tell her, she's too young." This was a couple of months ago. I'm twenty-five. (Like Piglet's Big Movie all over again.)

Fast forward to his trip to Thailand. He got an international phone and would text us. I never texted back, because a) he only cares about himself, so he sent them whenever he wanted with no regard for our time zone, so I was usually asleep when he sent them and b) it would've cost us money to reply. After a few texts sent with no response, he has the woman he met on the dating site text us from her phone! It was extremely strange and uncalled for.

He also had the bright idea to schedule the surgery he needed in Thailand, instead of here. (Even though he would be eligible for Medicare weeks after this trip.) He had it all set up, and then found out last minute while he was over there that he needed to change it to a different hospital. He emailed us and asked us to research the hospital and doctors for him. My brother emailed him and said absolutely not and that he is an adult and if he wants to move to Thailand, he needs to be able to do things for himself there.

After that, we didn't hear from him. He had parked his car at my brother's house in Seattle because he flew out of the Seattle airport. The day he landed back in Seattle, my brother was with us in the Portland area at the hospital where my dad was. My brother texted my father to tell him he wouldn't be around because of the situation with my dad. He got his car and didn't say anything about my dad. Didn't ask how he was, didn't ask how my brother was doing, or how any of his children were doing.

Through all of this, he never once called or texted or emailed any of his three children to see how the man who helped raise them (or fully raised them, in my case) was doing, or how we were doing. He absolutely knew when he had passed, because he liked every single Facebook tribute that any of us posted. He did end up sending a card to my mom, but it was all about how he felt about my dad's passing. He didn't even mention any of us.

My brothers have both unfriended and blocked him on Facebook, because they don't want him to know about their lives without actually having to be in them. I will probably follow suit eventually, because I certainly don't want to have a baby one day and have him just liking pictures left and right with no interaction with me. He still likes every single thing I post, and every time I see that I am furious and want to unfriend him, but somehow I feel guilty, which I know is absurd because he is the only one in this scenario who should feel that way. (I finally unfriended him on Mother's Day. I was talking with my mom and Michael about it and I said, "I'm just going to do it now while I'm riled up, so I won't feel guilty.")

One of my brothers actually ran into him when they were both walking their dogs around the lake where they both live. My brother described the conversation and it was like a conversation between two distant acquaintances. (And still no condolences or mention of my dad.)

And that's how my father went from 'dad' to 'biological father' to 'sperm donor' in my eyes. (And that's only recent history, not all the stories from childhood.)

Now maybe anyone who commented on my post about divorce can understand. A lot of those comments made me extremely frustrated, and I just reread them and some still do (even moreso now). If you're so against divorce that you would stay with a narcissist who didn't want your third child together, that's your decision. I don't care how divorce is 'too common' or whatever you think. I hate to imagine how my mom, my siblings and I would've turned out if they hadn't gotten a divorce. Especially because my dad was a million times the man my father will ever be.

I know Confessions posts aren't usually this heavy, but I'm still linking up with Nadine and Kathy for Confessions.

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  1. Thank you, once again, for your honesty! I'm somewhat close with a family whose parents got divorced and the dad is's SO tricky for the parents and kids, and I'm so impressed your mom was able to talk about him without any animosity. I'm so happy you had your stepdad in your life!!

  2. The whole time I was reading this, I just kept thinking that I'm so glad you had such a great step-dad to be a real father to you. To show you what it means to be a good husband and a good dad so you would know what to look for in a man someday. I know this post is more about your bio dad, but my head kept going to the man who raised you. I'm so glad you had him!

  3. I've never read your post on divorce (until now, that is) and I am not a child of divorce, but I don't have a problem with it when the human that you married turns out to be an entirely different person. And that happens. I like to think that K and I will never get a divorce- I actually say, out loud, that K and I will never get a divorce- but I won't condemn those that need to get one, because some people do. You can't predict life.
    It sounds like your mom is an angel. She sounds so strong and incredible and filled with love. What an incredible role model for you and your brothers, and what a wonderful love she must have for your dad. (The real dad, not the sperm doner.) I'm sorry you've had to deal with the betrayals and naivety and the cluelessness from your male biological figure. You absolutely don't have to write a thank you note and you never have to pick up the phone or read a text again- it sounds like there are a lot of positive forces in your life & those are the people that deserve your energy!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. That's because you have two good parents. My life has been infinitely better because of it, because I got a dad out of it.

  5. I am so sorry about all of this. I know its got to be so hard - even though you have placed him in a distant place in your heart.
    I pray there is some sort of reconciliation on everyone's part - just some sort of peace.
    & I'm just thankful you have found so many people & family that love you & step in places that may be missing otherwise :)

  6. I'm sorry that you've had to deal with all this. I'm glad your Dad was super awesome though, I hope you're hanging in there! Hugs!

  7. Thank you for writing this! I can't directly relate, but my husband's relationship with his father has also been tumultuous. He's a narcissistic sociopath who showed up at our wedding with little notice and then ditched out right after the ceremony. It's so hard to have a parent who is incapable of loving you well. I am a total advocate for removing those people from your life. Since we've done so with my father in law, we've felt so much more peace.

  8. I'm so sorry you have had to go through this, Mattie! I am so glad you had an amazing step-dad who showed you how a real father is supposed to act! <3

  9. Ugh Mattie you know I can somewhat relate and this pisses me off. I can really relate in everything really coming to a complete close more recently. It's like your dad and my mom strung us along for long enough and we are tired of giving them a chance and then getting hurt once again. I would feel the same way about moving to Thailand though, like good now I really don't ever have to see you again, thanks for making this easy! I'm so sorry he never even mentioned anything about the passing of your father, that would be so hard and frustrating to not have him show he cares about how it affected you and your family and just another way he failed you as a "dad". I've been debating deleting my mom for a while now, she never "likes" any of my posts anyways and I'm 99% sure she doesn't even look at my facebook page, like she probably wouldn't even notice if I unfriended her. You are lucky they did get divorced so that you didn't have to grow up full time with him and who knows how it would have affected you, plus you were blessed with an amazing father who took care and loved you like you really deserved!! I know this was probably hard to post but I'm glad you did. Something about getting things written down just feels good!! xo

  10. I seriously can't even imagine how that must have felt to have your dad say that about you before you were born and after you were born too! And I don't know how your mom could have handled it either! Life is already filled with too much drama to have your family bring even more into it! I'm so glad that you had your wonderful dad to help raise you because he sounded like such a wonderful man!

  11. I wanted to comment on this post, but not because I can relate, but because I'm really glad that your dad raised you. I went back and read the other post you wrote, and your "stepdad" (quotes are only there because that's what he was called, but I know he was your dad) was the best man to be in your life. I fully believe everything happens for a reason, and your mother divorced your biological father so that you could have a prime example of the man that should be a father, which was your dad. My father was never in my life. I don't even know who he is/was, or where is. I'm sure it has affected me in more ways than I'd like to admit, but I'm so glad that Sophie has a dad in her life, a good one, someone who far better than mine.

    liz @ j for joiner

  12. I HEART you so much! As a child of divorce, although in college, believe me, I can relate to a lot of this. People are so stinking judgmental when it comes to this subject. dang it, let us live out lives. I am so grateful you got a daddy to love you unconditionally. Genes really mean nothing if the heart did not come with it. Hugs and love to you sweet girl!!

  13. Michael is right, you most certainly don't have to send him a thank you card! It is unreal how selfish some people can be and while I am reading your story I am just shaking my head over here and wondering how he couldn't text you or your brothers to see how you all were doing not even once. I don't even "officially" know you and it broke my heart to hear about your real dad...the one that was there for you all along. Remind me that I have something else to say when you respond.

  14. Good for you Mattie. I am proud of you for what you did. Taking a stand.

  15. It sounds like your dad (stepdad) was an amazing man. I am so glad you had a wonder father-figure and man in your life. This is a great example of being a strong woman and standing up for what you believe in. You do not owe you biological father anything. Good for you!!!!

  16. You know, I would do the same thing with not writing a thank you note after everything the past few months. While I can't entirely relate to having divorced parents, I do have a "sperm donor" who was part of my life for a short while but then decided to be selfish & decided to stop talking to me completely. I had to eventually do the same thing as you- block from all social media so he couldn't keep up with my life that way rather than calling/visiting. Good for you for doing that! He doesn't deserve to be able to see what is going on with you or your brothers via Facebook if he can't take time out of his day to ask how you are doing. I'm so sorry that you have been going through this with him. Your stepdad sounds like he was an amazing guy & he was truly your dad. :)

  17. Wow. This is a lot to digest so I'm sure it was a lot to live through.

    I didn't read your divorce post, but I 100% believe in divorce. I wish some people would get divorced that won't.

  18. Mattie, I'm so sorry you have to deal with this, and especially while coping with the loss of your dad. My parents are divorced and I didn't know the real reason why for years either, so that part just struck me. Solidarity, sister. Parents can be incredibly frustrating and challenging to deal with, and sometimes, breaking away is the best option.

  19. Ugh. Sorry you're dealing with all this. At least the one huge positive is that it sounds like you have a great mom and brothers and had a wonderful stepfather!!!

  20. This is so hard to read so I can't imagine how tough it must be to deal with!! It's got to be incredibly hard to have a father like that. It sounds like the situation won't "get better" but I hope you can have some peace about it!

  21. Ugh, girl I'm so sorry. What a frustrating situation. Isn't it hard when you feel like the parent sometimes?! The more mature one!? Sometimes I know what that is like... we have a lot more in common than you'd think! I wish your father would wake up and see how special family is!!!

  22. Coming from a family with divorced parents as well, I fully support divorce. There have been very few (actually none that I can think of offhand) instances where divorce was a bad idea. I'm happy for you that you took a stand and cut him off from FB; he shouldn't have access to you "virtually" without taking the time/energy to be present in your actual life. Especially since seeing his "likes" upset you. And though he may have given a generous wedding present, he needs to know that you can't just be bought off. I'm glad that you had your "real dad" there to raise you and your brothers and be an example of what a great husband and dad can be.

  23. Wow, how hard and difficult this must be. I'm sorry he has been insensitive and half-there in your life for the entirety of it. What a frustrating hardship for you to go through. As you are now and adult, you have the right to own how you feel about him and how he treats you. It sounds like you and your brothers are a good support system for each other. I'm sorry he has not said anything about your dad's passing. He definitely should have acknowledged it.

  24. While I was reading this, all I could think about is how much of a deadbeat my dad is and how similar our feelings are. If your biological dad still hasn't learned his place, I would say be done with him. You have a real father who loves and understands you because he's been there for you since day one. Congrats on taking steps to block him from Facebook.

    Gilbert @ McCormick Divorce & Family Law

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