The fear of turning out like my dad.
— Iain Douglas Stewart 😙👌 (@Iain_D_Stewart) August 12, 2018
Inspired by this tweet, and powered by a love of self-discovery, I’m going to answer this question honestly and fully, to the best of my ability. It took me a while to get around to it, but as you can see, what fuels me is a desire to not turn out like my Dad.
Allow me to expand on that.
He left us a long time ago. I’m not sure who’s fault it was, or if any one person was truly to blame, but regardless, he left. I’m not going to go into details. We saw him on and off every second weekend for a while, but it was tough. I remember as a kid being torn between my parents – I wanted nothing more than to please both of them. Mentally it would frazzle me. I felt it was my fault that they split up, that he specifically did not want to raise me. That I was somehow broken and him leaving was the ultimate rejection of me. That is a typical thing to feel when you’re a child in the middle of a divorce, I have discovered. It felt to me as if he would rather raise two other children, and not me and my brother. Two children that were not even biologically his. That upset me.
This makes me mindful of what would happen if Jane and I ever divorced. Jake would take it hard. No amount of reassurance can quell those feelings. I’ve recently seen the effect it can have on a kid that spends 50% of his time with his Dad and 50% with his Mum – and let me tell you – that kid has it tough. He’s being torn in two directions, constantly. Pushed and pulled from pillar to post. Sure, he sees both parents a lot, but there’s no consistency. It upsets me to see a child treated like that, as I have a very good idea how he feels. Being a child of divorce is disastrous and not a preferable option, and I would rather not force it upon my son.
So where is he now?
My Dad’s current situation is that he lives in an assisted living flat in London, far away from all his relatives. He never sees my Mum, his ex-wife, they lost contact. He’s had a couple of phone calls with my brother, his other son, but that’s it. Missed out on Grand-children’s lives so far. I cannot imagine being so far away from anywhere I ever called home. It would be impossible for me to live so far away from my son, with no means to get to him. I would need to see my son!
He has no means to physically come to us as he is unemployed and is stubbornly looking for work in his preferred field. Since being back in contact with him he has told me of job after job after job that he has applied for, and been unsuccessful in all of them. This has made me doubt whether he is seriously looking, especially as there have been around ten “sure-things” that have fallen through for nebulous reasons. I’m currently working a job I don’t particularly like so that we have money coming in. That is key. I’m also bettering myself in my spare time as best I can so I can escape and eventually earn more.
My son deserves a father that is living his best possible life.
That is my motivation whenever I feel like wilfully stagnating.
He has told me that he had to sleep rough for a while and that was terrifying. Part of my breakdown in early 2017 was when I realised just how vulnerable my position I was – I looked up and saw that I was potentially a couple of bad decisions away from being homeless myself. Another reason why I am working so hard to create a better future for myself.
It pains me to write this, as he might read this one day, but I do feel it has to be said. My Dad and I recently reconnected online after being out of contact for a very long time. It was actually the spectre of becoming a father that initially made me search for his name on Facebook. It would be reasonably easy for him to find this blog. On Facebook he has gone back and liked a lot of very old pictures and status updates, so if he finds this blog, then him finding this post would be inevitable.
But I’m not going to live in fear of his reaction.
He may be upset about it, I don’t know. I cannot take back how I feel about things, or conjure up a different past. It may not be 100% accurate from everyone’s perspectives, but it is my truth, this is how I lived it. This is how I felt then and how I feel now, and I’m being honest. It may seem like I’m being needlessly negative about him – but the object of this piece was to explore what I’m doing to not be like him.
I found a book called No More Mr. Nice Guy, and it summed up a lot of mental problems that were caused when he left. I’m planning on writing a full review of the book soon – keep your eyes peeled for it. The problems include, but are not limited to dodgy life-scripts, negative assumptions about myself and corrupt core-beliefs that held me back. These were formed to ensure my survival when I was young, but they are not at all helpful when navigating adulthood. The great thing about No More Mr. Nice Guy is that it provides numerous ways to eliminate those bad thinking habits, and I’m working on them constantly. I’m not perfect, no-one is.
Self-improvement is an endless battle.
To be fair, he never knew his father, so it’s a bit of a cycle really. He was never brought up with a present father so I guess he never felt he needed to be present. But I could be wrong.