The third in a series of posts on my dad, growing up with (and without) him, and our eventual reconciliation (one of many).

After my parents officially divorced (a couple of years after they really separated, from what I recall) when we were 9 or 10, we didn’t see our father much. He tended to fall for the wrong women, get in trouble (fighting with them, letting them ‘take’ his money etc), and well, he’d always put them first, before us. So, when he had a girlfriend, he’d tend to disappear for awhile, or want to have us meet the latest woman in his life, something we never really wanted to do. And that would drive him farther away.

As did child support. He had a knack for finding ways out of paying child support (as measly the sum he somehow finagled his way into), disappearing, getting paid under the table so he wouldn’t have money ‘on the books’ showing how much he really had, or simply not paying.

That is something to this day that I can’t truly forget, because I can’t respect a man that won’t support his children. My mom struggled as a single parent, trying to go back to school to finish her degree when we were in middle/high school, and to put food on the table. We were on food stamps. And ‘government cheese.’ But we made it. With some help from family, and a lot of determination and willpower and God’s graces, we made it through some tough times as a family financially. My sisters and I got jobs at 14 and have never looked back. Probably why we have always, always had jobs, full-time in the summer, part-time during school, and never really taking time off for a ‘summer off’ as many of our friends did. (One of the things I wish I could have – or found a way to – do, at least in college, or before diving into full-time employment after graduating. Cie la vie.).

But, back to my father and my relationship with him. Unlike Jen, who loved him so much…in large part for who she wanted him to be, and Jess, who just got angry with him and would fight back (verbally) when he would say hurtful things to us, or push us away, I never really let myself get close enough to get hurt.

I saw what it did to Jen. Broke her heart. Over and over.

I saw what it did to Jess. Make her angry, hurt her feelings. Pissed her off.

And I just didn’t care enough to let him get close enough to hurt me or make me angry. I am sure that comes across a bit callous, but it was my defense mechanism. If I didn’t care enough, it wouldn’t hurt enough.

Fast forward to fall 2009….to be continued.