Today is Father’s Day in Australia.
I have struggled for the past fortnight, in the lead up to this day. Everywhere I’ve looked there have been stark reminders of what my life has failed to become.
Posters depicting happy families sit in the window of every store, advertisements on TV show dads laughing and carefree as they swing their beautiful children into the air, and my friends have been posting tributes to their husbands and fathers on my Facebook feed.
Every night this week I have cried myself to sleep because I’ve been so depressed and anxious about this day. I have felt so torn and conflicted. I have felt more anguish than I normally do on Mother’s Day.
I have been so angry at Doug. Desperately angry at him for leaving me alone. I’ve felt this pain like the stab of a knife straight through my heart.
See those lovely families on the posters in the shop windows? I will never have that. He has taken that possibility from me. He has torn that smiling baby from my grasp, erased that proud husband from the image of my future. What kind of a man would do that to a woman he claimed to love?
I have felt bad, too, for my children. The ones I carry with me in my heart. Because I honestly believe that they deserve better. They deserve a father who loves them, and loves their mother, and did everything he could to take care of his family instead of abandoning us when times got tough.
I really believe they watch over us both, and I have felt so awful because I know he can’t be making them proud right now. They must be so ashamed of him and his disgraceful behaviour toward me.
And then, simmering somewhere in the melting pot of my emotions, is empathy. I have worried about Doug. Worried about how he is handling this day. This day that will always be a reminder of the children he has lost. I worried that he had not surrounded himself with strong people, and that perhaps he was suffering in silence today. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want anyone to feel this bitter turmoil that I feel.
In spite of the way he has scorned me, I love him still. I miss him and I worry about him and I don’t want him to hurt in the same way that I hurt.
So this morning, after much deliberation, I decided to text him. I spent a long time trying to craft a message that took exactly the right tone. My first draft was way too sweet and needy:
Doug, I just wanted to wish you a happy father’s day. You are in my thoughts today and every day. Love you and miss you always, Sadie.
My second draft started off quite neutral, then quickly descended into petty bitchiness:
Hi Doug. It’s Fathers Day. You can stop caring about me and pretend I never existed, but please don’t do the same to our children. Please spare a thought for them today. Just one. They didn’t ask to have you for a father, but they’re stuck with you for eternity now. Sadie.
Finally, I found a quote online that I think summed up the message I was trying to convey better than my own words could manage. So I copied it into a text message, had a little cry, and then sent it off to him:
And then I waited.
I held the phone in my hand, and I waited.
I wondered where he was when he received the message, whether he thought fondly of me and our angel babies, and what his response would be. After all, this was the first scrap of emotion I had thrown his way in two months. A peace offering if you like, even though I was not the one who had wanted the conflict between us.
I spent most of the morning checking my phone every ten minutes, hoping he had responded. Even just a simple “thank you” would have sufficed. Even “fuck off and mind your own business Sadie” would have let me know that he had read my message and reacted to it. But I heard nothing.
I logged into Facebook several times and could see he was also active on the site. The little green light next to his name on Facebook Messenger alerted me to the fact he was both online, and using his phone to access the app. So he had definitely received the message.
At about 5pm this afternoon it finally occurred to me that he was actually never going to reply to my message. I broke down in the bathroom while I was flossing my teeth. I was just so…hurt.
Why does he treat me like I am nothing? Like I am less than nothing?
The night he left me, he told me that he would always love me. He told me that he would try to take care of me, even though we were no longer going to be together. Did he deliberately tell me those lies so that I would let him go?
I have done nothing wrong to this man. I have done nothing but love him the best way I knew how.
And I spent three years of my life putting myself through physical and emotional hell for him. Eight cycles of IVF so that I could have a family with him. Because I was so convinced that he was the most amazing man I had ever come across, and he was my soul mate, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him and our perfect little family.
Whether he likes it or not I am the mother of those children that he lost. Those children that he clearly doesn’t care about, or think about. It makes my chest physically ache to realise that he doesn’t care about anybody in his family. Not me, not our dog, not our children. None of us.
I keep thinking about that scene in Gone with the Wind when Scarlett slaps Ashley and screams “I’ll hate you until I die! I can’t think of anything bad enough to call you!” then throws the vase at the wall in a fit of anger. But of course she doesn’t hate him and instead spends the duration of her next three marriages desperately in love with him. That’s the conflict I feel over Doug.
I am crying again now. I am crying so much I can hardly read what I am typing. I am just so broken. I am confused. I am sick to my stomach. I just want to understand why he hates me so much.
Why when he read my message did he not care enough to even respond? Why couldn’t he understand how much thought and feeling had gone into that message? I was offering him love and support that he was not offering me. It was not a spiteful message, it was a message of understanding and empathy. What was so wrong with that? Is my entire life just a silly game to him?
I can’t write anymore now. I need to go and calm down. All I can say is…
Happy Father’s Day, Doug.
Thanks for letting your family down yet again.