The year was 1995. I was a 5 year old little girl with an annoying (still annoying) 2 year old sister. Michael Jackson’s You Are Not Alone was released. Take That wanted someone Back For Good and Robson & Greene would begin a 20 year mission to drive me mental with their Unchained (sodding) Melody.
It was also the year my father left us.
I still remember that day. I had spent the night at my cousin’s house, along with Li and the Warrior. It was only recently that she told me that we had never originally planned to spend the night. My father had simply not shown up to pick us up that night.
How could he forget to pick up his wife and children after work?
Still, the Warrior, having spent the entire night awake, and worrying, decided to get us girls dressed early in the morning and walk home. We did. All of us totally unaware of what had actually happened the night before.
I bounced into our little flat and (apparently) did what I always did. I went looking for my father. He wasn’t upstairs so I came back down.
His shoes were gone.
“Mummy, daddy’s shoes are gone,” I said.
She stopped. And asked me to go upstairs and check again. I did one better and looked in the wardrobe.
“Mummy, his clothes are gone.”
And that was that.
What followed over the next few years is complicated. Hurt feelings, betrayal, anger, arguments, you name it, it happened. We had to beg him to spend time with us. We had to beg. Two little girls who just wanted to spend time with their father would wait, dressed and ready to go at 2pm. He wouldn’t show until 2, sometimes 3, hours later. What did he care?
It all came to a head when one day, he took us out for lunch (yes, he was late again). Li, not much of an eater anyway, had simply asked me to relay to my father that she didn’t want salad in her meal. That was it.
That was literally it.
His Other Woman asked me what she had said. I didn’t want to talk to her. I didn’t know why she was there. I didn’t want her there.
So I didn’t answer. She asked again. Then he noticed and asked me what was wrong. I told him my little sister didn’t want salad. His face changed and he stood up in the middle of the restaurant (a cheap little kebab shop because that’s what time with his daughters was worth).
“Get in the car.”
He drove us home.
My sister cried the entire way back. He didn’t get out of the car. Just stopped. Told us to get out and then drove off. I took my sister’s hand and up we went back up to the flat. The Warrior, opening the door, was shocked to see us. She was on her way out too. Shopping or something. She asked us what happened and I burst into tears. And there she sat, in our little living room, holding her two little daughters who were crying. Again. After being rejected by their father. Again.
The Warrior, who to this day won’t stand for anyone hurting her children, was straight on the phone. She had had enough. He had blown too many chances. How many? We had lost count at that point. Enough was enough and she told him he would never see his children again. He didn’t care. She told him he would. One day he would regret it all. He said nothing.
He never fought her for custody. He never paid child support. It took years for the Warrior to get anything from him. She never asked. The government took £5.00 for the both of us per week from his salary eventually. They needn’t have bothered.
It’s now 2016. 21 years since he left. And I have just found out that he has left his second family. The woman he left us for, who gave him three children, has no idea where he is. He just left.
Do I feel sad? No.
Not even for his children? No. The Warrior does. I don’t. There is no love there. No bond. No understanding even. They are all teenagers. Was my pain worse than what they are going through now? I don’t know. Do I want to know? No.
The only thing I know is that my father hasn’t changed a single bit in over two decades. He has cried and apologised to me and to the Warrior, before. It means nothing because he is still the same person. Still selfish. Still causing pain. And still running away from his responsibilities. He is a serial offender. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had found yet another woman to shack up with.
Nothing would ever surprise me about him again. He is incapable of change. Loving his children is something he doesn’t want to do.
As for her. Well, you reap what you sow. You get a man who cheats on his wife and leaves his children for you, don’t be surprised when the same thing happens to you.
Deal with it.