A Father's Day card my stepson gave to his Dad sometime before our divorce.

Να είσαι καλύτερος άνθρωπος από τον πατέρα σου

"Be a Better Person than your Father"

I don’t celebrate Father’s Day. The Castle family hasn’t been dealt a fair hand on the father front. Don’t get me wrong, I know some truly amazing father’s that deserve to be celebrated.

Growing up without my dad in my life didn’t mean much when I was younger. He just wasn’t around and that was that. He would pop in from time to time. Nothing consistent. It was nice when he was around but usually my parents would end up fighting. Not arguing, fighting. I don’t talk to my dad much anymore. More reasons than him not being around when I was younger but that’s a story or 10 for the book. One of the last times my dad was in my house he tried to explain to me why he wasn’t around a lot.

“Your mom was a mean angry person. She would hit me, scream at me, throw things at me, and always want to fight me. She was crazy.”

My response?

“Yea I know. You left us with her. We know how she is.”

I am grown and now know that most of their shitty parenting had to do with mental illness, addiction, & alcoholism. They are a product of every choice they made. We had to be dragged down with them. I have spent too many years digging my way back up to just give in to society telling me that they are my parents and I have to interact with them. Not a chance they are getting me back on their level.

So in short, I don't celebrate my father on Father’s Day.

My children all had biological fathers. My oldest sons passed away when he was 4. My younger kiddos have the same dad, a predator they haven’t seen in close to 16 years.

Not a whole lot of celebrating there either. I claim my fair share of that. I had children with these men. I was a child myself. The only thing I can do is teach my children how important a decision to have children and who you raise them with is. I hope I taught them this in a graceful way and not in a cynical way.

There is a man my children call Dad. Standish*. Whenever the kids say Dad that is who they mean. When I say the kids dad he is the man I am talking about.

9 years Standish and I were together. I never thought he wouldn’t be there for them.

All the crap that I went through, It still sidelined me when it happened. On the outside looking in I get it now. Reading and learning about Narcissism, It makes sense to me. It didn’t make sense to them in the beginning. We are 6 years gone and I am pretty sure they get it now.

Anyone who has ever left a Narcissist knows that no contact is the best way to leave for good. So I suppose he did me a favor. Not them.

I mean the two youngest have a dark sense of humor to get them through it. My oldest likes to get drunk and tell Standish off on Facebook messenger. Maybe not the healthiest of ways but they get it. I am telling you the strength of my children amazes me and pisses me off. They shouldn’t have to be this strong. They shouldn’t need ways to cope with losing their Dad.

Not a biological parent. A grown man who saw three fatherless children and decided to step up. A man who told them he loved them and would always be there for them. A man my daughter dreamed of dancing at her wedding with. A man my youngest thought would be there to see him graduate. Maybe show him how to tie a tie. My oldest lives and is in love with Portland. Just like Standish was when we met, to share that with his dad would mean the world to him. After all that's the only dad he has.

Not every memory is tainted. Standish gave my kids so much more than a dark sense of humor. That’s the thing that makes it hurt. If it was only bad times, you could let it all go. It’s those happy times that are excruciating.

The kids' dad taught them a lot about respect. A trait my children use in everyday interactions. A life skill that isn’t always taught. You respect the people that are older than you. They have lived and learned.

He taught them how to fish. A sport I am not patient enough for. The countless hours my youngest and he would fish. Getting up extra early to sit on ice and fish in the winter. I don’t think Shawn cares to fish anymore. Cheyenne caught a fish the other day, and even 6 years later I think to say “ you should show your dad”. I used to encourage them to reach out to him. It made me realize that they were children, they didn’t need to be adults. They didn’t need to keep the momentum of a relationship going when the other person couldn’t reciprocate. Reaching out and not getting a response probably hurt worse than whatever the response would be.

He also made sure that they spent time outside. Kids belong outside when the sun is shining. While I think sometimes this went to the extreme as most things with Standish seemed to. This one is the one that I think they will carry over to their children. Without Standish I am not sure I would have ever moved out of the city. The kids never would have had an acre of fenced in yard. Barely any grass in the apartments in Portland. Of all the parts of their childhood that were tainted, I am so happy they had time in that house, with space to play and grow.

Writing this hurts. I hold a lot of sadness for them not having a dad in their lives. I take some of the responsibility. I won't carry it all though. Fuck that. I know that every choice I make has consequences not just for myself but for them. Children grow up and they realize, you make time in your life for the things you want.

I know some people will say how could you want them to see him? A man who put me through so much. A man who broke my spirit and took away my confidence. Writing this I am still not 100 percent sure. I know a huge part of me tries to only remember the good things that he did for the kids. I wish that was all they remembered. A part of that is self serving. Staying through my mental and emotional abuse had a toll on them. So maybe if I only remember the way he treated them, all the hurt belongs to me and how he treated me.

I also know how much they loved their brother and I thought way back then they would get to see him, seeing Standish. 6 years later and that’s not how it goes.

This is the reality we live in. When they say dad it just means a man they used to know. A ghost of the past. We mention those memories sparingly. None of us want to stir up old haunts.

We don’t have to celebrate fathers day. Society might say we have to. It’s been a long time since I cared what society thinks of me. I was meant for greater things than society would lead you to believe.

*I changed people from my pasts names. In this day and technology age I am pretty sure it wouldn't be hard for someone to figure out if they cared that much. I just want to cover my bases, so if this book does get published I don't have to share a dime with any of the people who harmed me.